Yitzhak Yedid is an award-winning Israeli-Australian composer and improvising pianist.
Yedid's style of composition described as: “eclectic, multicultural and very personal style that combines jazz and Jewish cantor music, classic European and avant-garde, randomness and a blend of techniques.”. Barry Davis wrote in the Jerusalem Post (2017) that: “Over the past couple of decades or so, Yedid has put out an almost bewilderingly eclectic range of works and recordings. His disciplinary backdrop takes in Western classical music, jazz, free improvisation, Arabic music and liturgical material. His compositions are generally viscerally and cerebrally engaging, and often visually striking, with the piano- playing role requiring a certain amount of calisthenic activity and a significant dosage of emotional and technical investment.”
Yedid has composed a wide range of works including chamber, orchestral and vocal music, music for solo instruments, choral and music for improvising ensembles.Dr Yitzhak Yedid is an Israeli-Australian composer and improvising pianist. Yedid’s interest lies in composing and performing concert music. His composition folio contains orchestral, chamber and vocal music.
Yedid studied in Jerusalem (Rubin Academy), Boston MA (New England Conservatory), and Melbourne (Monash University) where he gained a PhD degree in 2012. His expertise as a composer is in the integration of non-European musical elements, including improvisation, with Western practice. His compositions explore new forms of integrating classical Arabic music, Arabic-influenced Jewish music and contemporary Western classical music. Yedid is an expert in Arabic music and Maqamat (the modal system of classical Arabic music).
Yedid is a Sidney Myer Fellow (2018- 2019). His awards include the top two prizes in Israel for composers and performers: the Prime Minister’s Prize for Composers (2007) and the Landau Prize for Performing Arts (2009). In 2008 he was awarded the first composition prize for solo work for harp at the 17th International Harp contest which led to numerous performances of the piece worldwide and to two commercial recordings. Yedid has also been awarded a composer-in-residence position at the Judith Wright Centre (Brisbane, 2010) and at the Western Australian Academy of Performing arts (08). His latest album Arabic violin Bass Piano Trio was nominated for the 2012 Australian Jazz Bell Awards.
Yedid has performed his compositions with many ensembles in festivals and venues across Europe, Canada, the USA (including the Carnegie Hall (New York), Jordan Hall (Boston) and Benaroya Hall (Seattle), Asia, and Africa. His work has been presented at many festivals: Munich Festival; Icebreaker Festival (Seattle, US); Sibu Festival (Romania); Adis Ababa Arts Festival (Ethiopia); Tura New Music Festival; Melbourne International Jazz Festival; Guelph Jazz Festival (Canada); Vancouver Arts Festival; The Oud International Festival; Porgy & Bess Festival (Austria); Wiener Musik Galerie Festival; Frankfurt Arts Festival; and Copenhagen Jazz Festival.
Yitzhak Yedid’s music, a unique narrative of pictures, textures and colours that is characterized by a spectacular mix of styles, is a direct outcome of his inspiration through philosophical matters and mysticism, religious rituals and religious conflicts. For over a decade Yedid has researched composition and performance that integrates Western classic music traditions and Arabic music traditions, and composed, without subscribing or adhering to any particular system, a body of over 40 works that deal with this integration. “Musically, Yedid writes with detail and foreknowledge of the sounds anticipated, a highly developed feature. His music innovative and traditional, a combination that is not easy to achieve” (Kim Cunio, 2013).
Yedid writes “Looking for new compositional approaches and challenging musical conventions through the synthesis of a wide spectrum of contemporary and ancient styles is what motivated my work. Intellectual conflicts such as the confrontation with philosophical matters and religious and political aspects have always been of interest, and also underlie and motivated my work. I have been influenced in particular by Béla Bartók and Arnold Schoenberg to develop a personal vision as a composer.” This words by Yedid are inline with what the critics write about his music: John Shand from the Sydney Morning Harald wrote in 2014 about Yedid’s ‘Myth of the Cave’ “a vividly expansive composition”; Noam Ben-Zeav (Haaretz) wrote in 2013 that “Yedid music is an authentic expression of new music which incorporates a wide spectrum of contemporary and ancient styles”; and Ake Holmquist (NorraSkåne, Sweden) wrote in 2004 that “Yedid integrates specific stylistic influences into a personal created unity. The manner in which he describes folkloristic influences and melancholic specific themes can remind of Béla Bartók; improvisatory float of hovering à la Keith Jarret”.
Yedid’s compositions ‘Oud Bass Piano Trio’ (2006) and ‘Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio’ (2008) are works that combines a classical Arabic instrument with Western instruments. Randal McIlroy, Coda Magazine (Canada) wrote ”Pianist/composer Yitzhak Yedid’s Oud Bass Piano Trio conveys terrific tension, aggravation and release. It’s a stunner. Minimizing the distinction between composition and improvisation, the music is entrusted to supple hands.”, and jazz journalist Alain Drouot wrote for the prestigious Downbeat Magazine (US) that “Yedid’s trio explores a wide range of emotions and tones, even if a dark and mournful mood prevails. The musicians’ vivid interpretations produce a positive flow of energy that keeps the music alert and compelling, and Yedid is capable of striking lyricism. Jazz musicians often describe their art as storytelling. Yedid embodies this.”
Musically, Yedid create a confluence between the Maqamat (Arabic music modal system), heterophonic textures of ancient genres, and compositional approaches of contemporary Western classical music, to produce an original sound. Yedid introduces microtonality in his works in a range of different ways. He examined ways of using microtonal pitches that in Arabic music function as ornamentation and as part of improvisational gestures. He has extended the use of traditional ornamentation to compose microtonal sounds with microtonal qualities that unfold at different tempi without a definite pitch. This can be seen in many of his works. In his string quartet Visions, Fantasies and Dances, the microtonal intervals function in the context of diatonic and chromatic intervals and the method of a tension-and-release for intervals of a quarter-tone and three-quarter-tones have been employed.
Yedid have shown a new direction/subject in his later works and courage to make a commentary on international currant political/religious problems that continue to find no resolution. The Crying Souls (commissioned by the Australian Voices) and Delusions of War (commissioned by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra) are both anti-war works. The Crying Souls was written as a response to the chemical weapons attacks that happened in August 2013 in Damascus when more than 1,300 innocent civilian including children were massacred. Yedid writes “This work expresses my endless sadness to the death of innocent people”. In the notes on Delusions of War he writes “The music aims to make the listeners “feel” the human suffering that the war causes, and, without assuming to have answers, to encourage them to pause for a moment and to envisage better ways than force to resolve crises. The music captures emotions of anger and fear, and feelings of sorrow, tragedy and righteousness.”