Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Music Is My Life, the Violin My Wife and I like Cars, Food and Sleeping; PROMS; Fifteen-Year-Old Violinist Mostafa Saad Reunites with His Hero Nigel Kennedy, to Perform at Tomorrow's Proms in the Park. He's an Incredible Musician and Human Being, the Teen Prodigy Tells Maya Jaggi

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Music Is My Life, the Violin My Wife and I like Cars, Food and Sleeping; PROMS; Fifteen-Year-Old Violinist Mostafa Saad Reunites with His Hero Nigel Kennedy, to Perform at Tomorrow's Proms in the Park. He's an Incredible Musician and Human Being, the Teen Prodigy Tells Maya Jaggi

Article excerpt

Byline: Maya Jaggi

THE violin prodigy hailed by Nigel Kennedy as "a name for the future" is rehearsing in cut-offs and trainers in a sweltering concert hall in the Israelioccupied West Bank. Despite dodgy air conditioning, Mostafa Saad, who turns 16 next month, shares the high spirits of the 70-strong Palestine Youth Orchestra, which had a standing ovation in Bethlehem the night before. Rehearsing Wagner and Dvorak, he cheekily breaks into a lilting Arab solo that makes the band laugh.

He has reasons to be cheerful. Along with his gifted brothers Omar, 17, a viola player, and Ghandi, 13, another violinist, he was seen by millions when Britain's Kennedy invited them and others from the Palestine Strings to play Vivaldi's Four Seasons in their Prom debut last month. The concert was broadcast live on Radio 3 and televised on BBC Four. For many reviewers, the brothers' improvised Arab solos, and Ghandi's soulful singing, were the high point, along with an astounding encore, when Kennedy played the slow movement of Vivaldi's A-minor double violin concerto with the 15-year-old, who learned the piece in a few days. "It was an amazing opportunity. He's an incredible musician and human being," says Mostafa.

He returns with Kennedy and the BBC Concert Orchestra in Hyde Park for tomorrow's Proms in the Park, playing Kennedy's Melody in the Wind.

I meet the brothers at summer camp for the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music -- Palestine's biggest conservatoire, founded 20 years ago. Young Palestinisns and Israelis, who are normally kept apart, come here to play together.

Mostafa, who started the violin aged seven, then the oud (oriental lute), first played with Kennedy in East Jerusalem last year, after he spotted the Palestine Strings on YouTube. "Music is my life, and the violin is my wife," says Mostafa, listing his passions as "girls, music, cars, food and sleeping".

Omar, 18 in November and bearded, has a contrasting gravity. His Prom solo was the easy part, he says softly.

"When Mostafa played and Ghandi sang, my heart was beating fast." That closeness embraces their sister Tibah, 14, a cellist who completes their Galilee Quartet. …

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