Palestinian musician Nizar Rohana (now based in Utrecht, The Netherlands) has developed a unique voice in the ud world. He is distinguished for combining virtuosity within fresh contemporary compositions while maintaining the ud’s authentic language.
Rohana was born in the village of 'Isifya on Mount Carmel near Haifa city to a father who played ud in communal celebrations and a mother who accompanied him on percussion. From a young age, Rohana played music, picking up the ud when he was 13.
Following extensive studies in ud performance, composition, and musicology, Rohana immersed himself in developing contemporary ud compositions, taking inspiration from the practices of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Brahms all the way to Tanburi Cemil Bey, Kemani Tatyus Efendi, Muhammad Al-Qasabji and Muhammad Abdel Wahab.
In 2001 he was awarded a Bachelor of Music and Arts (specialisms in ud performance and musicology) from the Arabic Music Department of the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance and the Musicology Department of the Hebrew University. For some time he then focused his work on the music of the great Egyptian composer Muhammad Al-Qasabji, completing his Master’s degree in 2006.
As a performer, Rohana’s wide stage experience as a soloist and within groups encompasses playing traditional, modern, experimental, and world music. During the last fifteen years, he performed in countries such as Japan, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, and in the USA and Europe, releasing his first album Sard (Narration) in May 2008.
In 2013 he formed his own trio together with the Hungarian double bass player Matyas Szandai, and French-Lebanese percussionist Wassim Halal, releasing their debut album Furat (Euphrates) in 2016.
In 2015, Rohana was invited by the renowned Dutch bass player Tony Overwater to participate in the music recordings for the recent IKON documentary series 'Om de Oude Wereldzee' (‘Around the Ancient World Sea’), based on the travels of Dutch politician Abraham Kuyper. In 2016, Overwater and Rohana formed Madar Ensemble together with the Dutch clarinetist Maarten Ornstein; Tunisian violinist and viola d’amore player Jasser Haj Youssef and Jordanian percussionist Nasser Salameh. Their debut album Acamar was released in May 2019.
Between 2001 and 2007 Rohana was one of the main ud and music theory teachers at the Edward Said National Conservatory in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Bethlehem, and in 2006 he also worked as the deputy for academic affairs.
In 2021, Rohana received his Ph.D. in artistic research at Leiden University Academy for Creative and Performing Arts. His thesis, ‘Ūd Taqsīm as a Model of Pre-Composition, includes a number of new compositions for solo ud inspired by the improvisations of the great Egyptian ud players Muhmmad al-Qasabji and Riyad al-Sunbati.