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Catching up with...Abdullah Khalaf

Abdullah Khalaf sitting by a grand piano

This month we caught up with Music Performance alumnus Abdullah Khalaf. Graduating from his MA in 2008, Abdullah went on to study for his doctorate in Music Performance at the University of Southampton. He now owns a Musicology Centre in Kuwait that organises cultural events and boasts the largest musicology library in the country. This year, the British Council in Kuwait also nominated him for an Entrepreneurial Award, as part of the Study UK Alumni Awards in 2019. Abdullah continues to enjoy both composing and performing as a pianist, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at The College of Basic Education in Kuwait.  

Why did you choose Kingston?

Studying at Kingston University gave me the opportunity to get exposed to a multicultural community where I learned how to coexist. It provided me with an education that exceeded my expectations - my time at Kingston improved my musicianship, playing skills and English language.

Another important fact is the significant location of Kingston University being surrounded by many historical sites, music venues and some of the most important and oldest libraries in the world. Kingston is also a great location because it's only few minutes away from central London.

What are your best memories from your student days at Kingston?

The positive energy at Kingston University makes it easier to meet people from different disciplines and we are still friends today. We used to gather every week to talk about interdisciplinary topics which gave me the imagination to look at my own major from a different perspective. Also, I still miss the events organized by the university.

What have you been up to since graduating?

Immediately after obtaining my MA in Music from Kingston, I started my PhD at Southampton University. Now, I am a Assistant Professor at Kuwait College of Basic Education. I also started my own business and opened my own music centre where I follow the British system. I also perform concerts both locally and internationally.

Are you still in touch with anyone from Kingston?

Of course, I am still in touch with most of my friends from the Music department, and friends from other departments too. Some of them visited me in Kuwait and I also made it to see some of them receiving awards.

I am also still in touch with my amazing supervisor Dr. Timothy Ewers who supported me from the very beginning, I owe him a lot and I would not have made it without his great supervision and advice.

I still visit Kingston University from time to time. In March 2017 I performed my own composition, Elegy Cycle, in concert on campus. The composition is a collection of elegies dedicated to all humans without distinction.

What's your greatest achievement?

I would say that opening my own music centre is my greatest achievement. I started it last year and it is growing step by step. The music centre also presents a free cultural event every month to spread awareness of classical music and other cultural matters. In addition to that, the music centre provides the biggest music library in Kuwait, providing music researchers in Kuwait with the required books and references to write professional articles and dissertations for the first time.

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

I would advise my eighteen year old self to travel and discover the world earlier, read more, practice more and believe in yourself!

What advice would you give current students studying Music at Kingston?

Seize the moment, being in Kingston is a great opportunity and make the most of it. Don't forget to have fun as well because it is an important part of being human!

Tell us something no one would guess about you.

I am working on the first piano book to be published in Kuwait in the Arabic language.

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