Ibrahim Maalouf, the Lebanese-born, French-bred trumpeter and composer has finally won France's equivalent to the Oscars, the César award, for his work on the movie “Dans les forêts de Sibérie.”
The musical pioneer, who is credited with becoming a reference for oriental electro-jazz, received the award this week in a lavish ceremony.
Maalouf's big win comes two weeks after he received the “Concert/Musical Show of the Year” (Spectacle musical/Tournée/Concert) award at France’s 32nd edition of “Victoires de la Musique”.
It is his second César nomination. In 2015, he was nominated for Best Original Score for his work on Yves Saint Laurent, a 2014 French biographical drama film.
Western music with Arabic undertones
In his acceptance speech he thanked all those who helped him get to where he is today. "Two childhood dreams of mine were to to do concerts and make film music," he said in a post ceremony interview.
He has in the past talked about growing up with Arabic music. The son of renowned classical trumpeter Nassim Maalouf, Ibrahim is largely seen as musical force pushing oriental music to Western audiences - by way of his trumpet.
In 2013, Maalouf released his own rendition of Michael Jackson's iconic tune "They Don't Care About Us," spicing it up with Arabic undertones. That same year he released "Illusions", his fifth album.
In 2015, his album titled "Khalthoum", which celebrates the work of Egyptian diva Umm Kalthoum was released, followed by 2016's score on "Dans les forêts de Sibérie".
"I’m just trying to do my job … Music is the best way to make people not be scared of their differences. I think that it helps a lot," he told The New York Times back in September.
It runs in the family
Trumpets originally have three valves. But, Maalouf's father introduced a fourth, which enables a player to hit notes that characterize Arabic "maqams" or scales and modes with quarter-tones and three quarter-tones intervals.
"My father as a trumpet player, one of his purposes was to be able to play Arabic music on the trumpet, so he got the idea [to add] an extra valve, [which] allowed him to play the exact quarter-tones … When you play Arabic music, you have to blow in the instrument the way you sing," Maalouf told NPR in 2016.
Ibrahim Maalouf’s material does not fall strictly into one category. But heritage and the Middle East are a repeated theme.
He is now seen as one of the leading, and best-selling, jazz musicians and composers in France and is the winner of countless awards. He has played with performers as varied as Amadou & Mariam, Lhasa de Sela, Sting, Arthur H and Marcel Khalife.
But ... he's not the only Lebanese
Ibrahim Maalouf wasn't the only Lebanese to be nominated for the much coveted award. Gabrial Yared, another Lebanese-French world renowned composer was also nominated under the same category for his work on Chocolat, a 2016 French drama film.
Yared is known for his work on The English Patient, which he won an Oscar and a Grammy Award for in 1996. He was also nominated for his work on The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) and Cold Mountain (2003).