23 Aug 2017

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Kelsely Abaza


'Kelsely Abaza' (كلسلي أباظة) is a multi-genre Egyptian composer and producer whose work encompasses elements of avant-garde music, electronic classical music, electronic jazz, musique concrète, vocal music, microtonality and Arabic tonal systems, and experimental electro-pop, writer, interdisciplinary researcher and mental health and meditation advocate working in New Zealand. He is also a member of the 'Cantabrian Society of Sonic Artists' and a part-time teacher of Modern Standard and Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, poetry, and literary translation.

Abaza was born on 27 December 1984 in Cairo. He is a naturalized New Zealander, having moved to New Zealand to further his education studying Political Science, Sociology and Philosophical Logic at the University of Canterbury. He hails from Egypt's largest political and literary dynasty, the Circassian/Abazin 'Abaza Family', also noted for its artistic and cinematic contributions to Arabic and Egyptian culture.

Kelsely Abaza takes his name from 'Prince Mahmoud Al-Yazgy Sharaf-al-Deen Qaraq Kelsely', a maternal ancestor from the 'Royal House of Mohamed Ali Pasha'.

Overview of Reception :

Kelsely Abaza's work has been well-received by some Egyptian media and underground art communities such as 'Mashareeb', 'Mideast Tunes' and 'Ahram Canada', describing it respectively as "very special, very distinctive, very daring and very unusual", “exquisitely complex...avant-garde experimental electro” and as a "masterful" mix "between the classical, the traditional and the best of modern experimental music." In 2015 New Zealand underground music magazine 'Cheap Thrills' published an excerpt of an academic essay on his music in which they described his work as having "melodies and harmonies...[and] sound design" which is "sonically and dynamically very exciting...[and] with an international gaze...[which is] demanding and compelling."

Other commentary in Egyptian media on Abaza's work (January 2016) described his pieces as a “show of force [through] complex arrangements [displaying] orchestral beauty so that indeed we feel that we are listening to a full orchestra.” An earlier review of other compositions (October 2015) stated that - “[Kelsely Abaza’s] style is eclectic; the arrangements, sound design and instrumentation sounds accomplished and professional. His melodies are at times dark, at times playful and addictive, hypnotic and satisfying.”

Work and History:

Kelsely Abaza's performances often involve multimedia son et lumière shows. He has collaborated on music videos with visual artists from Russia and France and creates visual accompaniments to his music for audio-visual concerts.

Abaza's music first began airing on local New Zealand radio in 2008 and he has been active as a performer since 2011. On 12 December 2015 the composer released 'Mood up the Mode', a composition of jazz-influenced electronic music and on 2 January 2016 he released 'Amira', a more accessible tune of downtempo electronica dedicated to his sister. Both compositions were made available for free despite being released on all major digital music outlets at the same time.

A melancholy composition from the projects entitled 'Michael Louis' met with some unexpected success reaching New Zealand on Air's 'RDU Te Ahi Top 10' twice in February 2016 and several early versions of pieces by Abaza continue to be played on local New Zealand radio.

In January 2017 the composer announced on his website that two major album-length projects had to be delayed due to technical problems with his studio instruments. Demos and unmastered compositions remain online for streaming and all aforementioned compositions are freely downloadable on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and Muzic.net.nz and in major digital music outlets.

In November 2016 'New Zealand on Air', 'Massive' and Christchurch's 'RDU' radio invited Abaza to perform in their annual 'Live Sessions' for broadcast in May 2017. For this Kelsely Abaza composed a highly experimental electro-acoustic rendition of New Zealand's national anthem featuring a new harmonic arrangement of the original melody.

Beginning with the 9/11 attacks in the United States; Kelsely Abaza began publishing articles on socio-political issues specializing in Middle East politics, mostly in local New Zealand press. He was regularly consulted by New Zealand broadcast and print media during the 2011 Egyptian revolution and following the uprising in 2013. Perhaps the most momentous of these contributions was during the historical live final televised speech by deposed Egyptian President Mohamed 'Hosni Mubarak' on 'TVNZ' for which Abaza was called in haste to aid in the translation and analysis of the address.

In the same year, the 'Auckland War Memorial Museum' invited Abaza to speak on the Egyptian revolution of 2011 with Political Scientist 'Nigel Parsons' of 'Massey University' and to perform his music. This concert constituted his first attempt at audio-visual performance.

In terms of academic work, Kelsely Abaza abandoned a research piece for the 'Rutherford Journal: The New Zealand Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology' in 2015 in favour of pursuing several musical and artistic projects. He uploads educational lectures on Philosophy, Logic, Psychology and papers on a number of topics to Acdemia.edu and YouTube.

News and Updates:

In early 2017 Abaza announced he is composing music and authoring lyrics for voice and acoustic instruments including violin and viola as well as electronic instruments for pieces which will feature Christchurch musician 'Michael Summerfield' who notably played and recorded with bands such as 'The Undercurrents' and performed on songs by 'Marlon Williams' and other notable local artists.

A return to academic research, this time in Psychology, began when Pathways , a New Zealand organization of support workers catering for psychiatric patients requested in late 2016 that Kelsely Abaza give a lecture in early 2017 to their staff on methods for recovery and rapid intervention to better help their clients. On January 17 2017 Kelsely Abaza announced a new project consisting of lectures and papers on Positive Psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and meditation as an extension of the planned lecture. This work is due to be published on the Internet with free access later in the year.

Additionally, Abaza announced plans to form an Incorporated Society in New Zealand as a non-profit initiative to promote information and teachings on recovery from mental illness and meditative techniques applicable to psychological therapy. This is an extension of human rights-related initiatives and research in Egypt on which Abaza started working following the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and during a field-research stay in Egypt from November 2011 to August 2012. For this he cooperated with the Egyptian Council for Housing Rights and the Peasants Solidarity Committee among others.

Biography up to date as of July 20 2017.
Provided by 'Of Modulation'.
Please include attribution if third parties quote text or publish pictures.
Ⓒ ℗ Of Modulation 2017.


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  • Christchurch

Media Downloads

  • Alike are Brotherly Veins

    An electronic classical composition from Kelsely Abaza's upcoming release in late 2017. Composed, produced, mixed and mastered by Kelsely Abaza. Copyright: Of Modulation and Ahmed Tarek Bahgat Abaza 2017.
    Download Now [Size: 8.93MB | 8:26 | 148kbps]

  • Amira

    Composed, produced, mixed and mastered by Kelsely Abaza. Copyright: Of Modulation and Ahmed Tarek Bahgat Abaza 2017.
    Download Now [Size: 11.33MB | 4:57 | 320kbps]

  • Michael Louis

    Composed, produced, mixed and mastered by Kelsely Abaza. Copyright: Of Modulation and Ahmed Tarek Bahgat Abaza 2017.
    Download Now [Size: 13.11MB | 5:44 | 320kbps]

  • Mood up the Mode

    Composed, produced, mixed and mastered by Kelsely Abaza. Copyright: Of Modulation and Ahmed Tarek Bahgat Abaza 2017.
    Download Now [Size: 9.94MB | 4:21 | 320kbps]

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