Layth Sidiq appointed artistic director of New York Arabic Orchestra

The Iraqi-Jordanian violinist succeeds Bassam Saba, who died in 2020

 Iraqi-Jordanian violinist Layth Sidiq is the new artistic director of New York Arabic Orchestra. Layth Sidiq / Facebook
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Layth Sidiq is new artistic director of the New York Arabic Orchestra (NYAO).

The Iraqi-Jordanian violinist will lead the ensemble, viewed as the leading US institution for contemporary and classical Arabic music.

Sidiq succeeds Lebanese composer Bassam Saba, who both cofounded and led the orchestra until his death in December, 2020.

He says that he plans to pick up where his predecessor left off and continue to grow NYAO’s presence.

In addition to overseeing the development, music and educational programme of the orchestra, Sidiq aims to use the 2021 to 2022 musical season to expand the scope and offerings of the orchestra.

“The New York Arabic Orchestra combines the best of worlds as evidenced by Bassam Saba’s passionate leadership and by the great sense of musical freedom and expression he enabled for all on his stage,” he said.

“In taking the baton, I look forward to reinvigorating this spirit, creating new performance and educational opportunities for musicians, and to advancing connections with institutions and ensembles across the globe.”

Who is Layth Sidiq?

Born in Iraq, Sidiq picked up the violin at the age of four and went on to study at The National Music Conservatory in Jordan.

As well as landing a scholarship in Boston's Berklee College of Music, Sidiq supported a number of jazz and world music artists in global tours including Indian composer AR Rahman and Palestinian-American multi-instrumentalist Simon Shaheen.

In addition to his touring schedule, Sidiq served as director of the Centre for Arabic Culture's Youth Orchestra in Boston, a music education programme spreading awareness of Arabic music among the youth.

Collaborator Shaheen praised the appointment, stating Sidiq’s experience and tenacity will hold the orchestra in good stead.

“I can only see Layth helping the New York Arabic Orchestra step up to the next level,” he said.

"Sidiq's hard work, commitment, and above all his musicality should help the group to have its own unique sound."

NYAO cofounder and executive director April Centrone echoed the sentiment and said Sidiq is well placed to elevate the profile of the institution in the US and abroad.

“This is a crucial time in our development,” she said.

“Layth brings a rare command of the classical Arabic repertoire combined with the skills and talent to broaden our reach, inspire members and meet the demands of diverse audiences.”