Biography

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Tristan Driessens

Tristan Driessens (°1982) is a Belgian born oud player and musicologist. He is regarded as one of the finest performers of the oud in Belgium, creating a style entirely of his own. He holds masters in Musicology (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and Turkish ‘ûd (LUCA, Conservatory of Leuven). From 2009 to 2012, he journeyed in Istanbul where he studied makam and Turkish oud under grand master Necati Çelik. Additionally, he attended master classes with Kudsi Erguner (Bîrûn Ensemble, Venice), Yurdal Tokcan (Labyrinth Musical Workshop, Greece) and Naseer Shamma (Beit al-aoud, Cairo). He is involved with Ottoman music as well as with more contemporary types of Middle-Eastern music. From 2012 to 2015, he toured intensively with numerous music, theatre and dance companies throughout Europe and the Middle-East, most notably Balacordes, Berlin, Duo Leemans-Driessens, Theater De Spiegel, Amorroma and Nathan Daems Karsilama Quintet. He is the artistic director of the much celebrated Lâmekân Ensemble, which he founded in 2011 together with his friend and long-term colleague Ruben Tenenbaum. The group released two critically acclaimed albums so far and enjoyed sharing the stage with the greatest masters of Classical Turkish music, most notably Derya Türkan, Murat Aydemir, Bora Uymaz and Burcu Karadag. In 2015, in order to shape his eclectic musical references in a set of newly wriiten compositions, he created the Tristan Driessens Soolmaan Quartet.

In 2016, Tristan founded the Seyir Academy, a Brussels based music Insitute for Turkish and Mediterranean studies that organises seminars, master classes, concerts and weekly ‘ûd lessons. In the same year, Belgian world music association Muziekpublique asked him to be the artistic director of the Refugees for Refugees world music group. Together with saz virtuoso Emre Gültekin, he teaches Traditional and Classical music from Turkey within Muziekpublique’s World Music Academy.

As a musicologist, he concentrates his research mainly on makam, which is the classical music system of the Middle-East. He is currently preparing a book that will provide an analysis of makam through transcriptions of modal improvisations (taksîm) performed on the oud.

Tristan Driessens was born in 1982 and began his musical career in Brussels, taking his first oud lessons with Azzouz El Houri. During his musicological studies he extended his musical interests towards the great centres of Middle Eastern culture; journeying to Cairo, Istanbul and Greece, he studied the oud with such great masters of the instrument as Necati Çelik, Yurdal Tokcan and Naseer Shamma. He has been taking part in many seminars and master classes, most notably in Beit Al’Aoud (the ‘House of the Lute’) in Cairo and at Labyrinth Musical Workshop (Greece, Crete). All of these experiences have enabled him to create his own style of playing, one that demonstrates his openness to the musical cultures in which the oud helds a central position.

At a very young age, Tristan’s family took him for a seven year journey with wagons and horses through Europe. Mainly due to this nomadic childhood, he explores several musical horizons, going from Ottoman music to Sephardic music as well as folk traditions from North and South-West Europa. More recently, he became fascinated by contemporary dance and music thanks to his experience as a soloist in Passion (Opera De Munt, 2012) from the French composer Pascal Dusapin. He is the founder and artistic director of the Lâmekân Ensemble and La Compagnie d’Elias, with whom he performed in Turkey, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Moreover he works as an ud player in a wide range of music and theatre companies, most notably Berlin, Balacordes, Theater De Spiegel, Amorroma, Me & My Tribe and the Nathan Daems Karsilama Quintet. Beside that, he gives weekly Turkish oud lessons and seminars in Brussels.

Both as a musican and a musicologist, Tristan Driessens concentrates his research on the makam, a classical language of the Middle East that is built upon micro modal structures. He is currently preparing a publication entitled ‘ûd taksîmlerî that will provide an analysis of makam through transcriptions of taksîmler (modal improvisations) performed on the oud. He’s often asked to give conferences and seminars to elucidate the music in which he specialises, most importantly as a guest lecturer and oud instructor (Oud festival of Istanbul, Musica Sacra Rosario, MIM, Fedactio, C-Mine, Université Libre de Bruxelles, etc.) that specialises in musical styles related to Ottoman makam. Their first critically acclaimed album Garden Of Fidelity, Music of the Ottoman Court (M&MT Records, Istanbul) brings a outstanding homage to 19th Century Istanbul.

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