World-renowned violinist Daisy Jopling takes part in Irradiance at the Giza Pyramids, merging Western, Egyptian and African music into a spectacular sound and light experience.
Against a backdrop of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Hany Adel and his Wust El Balad band performed alongside jazz singer Noha Fekry, world-class British violinist Daisy Jopling, and a band consisting of young refugees and Egyptian artists from the AfriCairo Collective.
Titled “Irradiance,” the show was a magical and breathtaking musical experience, merging Western, Egyptian, and African music into a spectacular sound-and-light experience never seen before.
In addition to the main performers, the concert featured a choir of youth from underprivileged areas in Cairo, as part of a project supported by The Daisy Jopling Music Mentorship Foundation, giving destitute youth in Cairo a chance to build their confidence through the creative arts. The concert was also an opportunity for refugees engaged in music, film and event production to work alongside Egyptian professionals as part of a project by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and IEFTA that aims to facilitate their access to the creative sector of the Egyptian job market.
Daisy Jopling is an internationally renowned violinist and composer who has played at world-class events since the age of 14. She has toured globally with her Daisy Jopling Band and with the creative string trio Triology, recorded major albums, collaborated with superstars worldwide, and composed music for various ensembles that has been performed in major concert halls throughout the world. Egypt Today sat down with the world-class British violinist to talk about her recent concert in Egypt and her extraordinary musical career.
1-What was it like performing at the Giza Pyramids?
As I waited to walk on stage before our Irradiance concert I was flooded with awe that I am performing in this iconic place. I am honored beyond words that I was able to have this experience. For me, the Giza Pyramids brought me into a place of high love vibration with great gratitude, and the musical vibration of my performance reflected that. I also know that my audience were feeling the amazement of seeing the pyramids lit up and feeling the transcendence of time through their presence.
2-Irradiance merges Western, Egyptian and African music into a spectacular sound and light experience. Tell us more about that.
A couple of years ago members of my team in the US suggested we perform at the Giza Pyramids. I couldn’t imagine how that could be possible, so I discarded the idea. But I felt inspired to research more about Egyptian culture and the pyramids, and I became absolutely hooked. It was so inspirational to me that I decided to travel to Egypt and explore the idea of a concert there. Within 24 hours of being in Cairo I met the amazing producer Ragnhild Ek, CEO of Red Amber Events. She and I share similar musical tastes and are both passionate about how music can transform children’s lives. We decided to create a concert which merges Egyptian, classical and African music, all of which I feel deeply connected to. I also have a very strong artistic background, and I love to include a light show in my performances.
3-Tell us about your first cooperation with Hany Adel and his band Wust El Balad, Noha Fekry, young refugees band and the Egyptian artists from AfriCairo Collective.
Ragnhild connected me to Ahmed Omar, Wust El Balad, Hany Adel and Noha Fekry, who are all musicians I absolutely adore. We decided that Ahmed Omar would be our music director, and Ahmed and I chose my original music which we felt our Egyptian audience would relate to, then Ahmed enhanced my music by adding traditional Egyptian instruments. I chose two of my favorite Omar Khairat pieces, and also chose songs by Hany Adel and Noha Fekry because of the meaning of their lyrics, which really touched me. I feel both personally, spiritually and musically deeply connected to all of these artists. It felt so easy and joyous to work with them. My friend Iman Mortagy also put me in touch with the managers of the Cairo-based children’s arts program Harakat. I was blown away by their amazing work, and I decided to invite them to perform in the concert with us. Having the children on stage enhanced our concert in a deeply meaningful way, and also was a transformative experience for these children. It was also truly wonderful to have the young star singer Mariam Magdy perform with us. I am thrilled that AfriCairo opened the concert for us, and being able to offer these uplifting experiences for refugees is something I feel privileged to be a part of.
4-One of your biggest achievements is forming the Daisy Jopling Foundation which brings mentorship by international musicians to the youth of the world and takes away the barrier of cost to attending concerts and music programs for children. Tell us more about the role of your foundation.
Through the work of my foundation I have seen firsthand for the last 12 years that giving a child the opportunity to perform and express themselves through music can be completely life changing. It builds up their confidence, opens doors, hearts and minds, and teaches them lifelong learning skills. So far, my foundation has worked with over 8,000 children, and we would love to collaborate with local organizations in Cairo to bring more music programs to children.
5-The experience of performing at the Royal Albert Hall was by all means life-changing for you. How did the experience affect your musical career?
The experience of performing at the Royal Albert was indeed life-changing for me. Even though I felt incredibly nervous the week before, the moment I stepped out on stage, I felt like I was flying. The performance seemed to be over in a few seconds, and I realized performing is something I absolutely love. Having this kind of opportunity is something I love to pass on to the students in our mentorship foundation. I feel passionately that each person’s voice is important, and a performance is a moment of connection and listening for both the performers and audience.
6-Why did you study at three conservatories? And how has that affected your artistic path?
I initially studied at a world-class classical music institution, the Royal College of Music in London. My fantastic teachers, Frances Mason and Itzak Rashkovsky, gave me a firm technical foundation to my violin playing. I then studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, where I began improvising and to play different styles of music. Finally I studied at the Conservatoire in Vienna with world-renowned violin teacher Boris Kuschnir. Being in Vienna, surrounded by extraordinary, creative musicians and studying with Kuschnir gave me confidence and the courage to become the musician I wanted to be—forging a new path to create something which has never been done before.
7-What is your most memorable moment as a musician so far?
Performing at the Giza Pyramids is something I will never forget! But I also have other deeply memorable experiences, for example performing at the Tajin Festival in Mexico, with a rainforest behind us and pyramids in front of us. I was performing with the creative string trio Triology, and we were playing a piece by the cellist Tristan Schulze which was inspired by Senegalese Birdsong. As we started to play this music, birds in the rainforest started to sing. We were all in awe. Tears of emotion were rolling down my cheeks, and as we finished the music, the birds carried on singing, and there was total silence in the audience. We were all transfixed by this magical moment.
I also loved performing for 30,000 people at the opening of the Vienna festival, just walking onstage and hearing the roar of the audience was extraordinary.
8-Tell us more about touring the world with international musicians.
I love exploring new cultures, new perspectives on life, and learning new musical styles on my violin. Music transcends all boundaries, and is a way to bring our world together, connecting as human beings. I feel honored beyond words to have performed with many great musicians around the world, connecting in love, creativity and understanding. Being able to add the component of the refugees and children as well is incredibly rewarding.
9-You master fiddle in addition to violin—will we see you playing bluegrass one day?
I love that idea (laughs). Bluegrass music is a whole new world for me, and I hope someday that I will get into that world as well. I love the music and I am good friends with legendary bluegrass fiddler Mark O’Connor—he is a great inspiration to me.
10-What are your plans for the future?
With my violin voice of love, I am planning concerts in iconic venues around the world. We are looking at the Taj Mahal in 2023, the Acropolis in Greece in 2024, Copacabana Beach in 2025 and many more! I’ve also fallen completely in love with Egypt, and I would love to take our pyramids show to different venues around Egypt, and other countries in the surrounding area. I’m very excited by the explosion of creativity in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Dubai, Qatar, Oman and many other nearby countries, and I would be honored to share our musical collaboration with this part of the world.