Bushra El-Turk



Bushra El-Turk's music of '...ironic...', '...arresting...' and 'limitless imagination' forebears the influence of her Lebanese roots and straddles Eastern and Western idioms which seek to question Eastern socio-political and socio-cultural issues in contemporary Western contexts, all the while leaning towards the absurd and theatrical. 

Bushra began to study the 'cello and piano from a young age at the Centre for Young Musicians and then went on to study composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Julian Philips, where she graduated with a Bachelor and then gained a Master in Composition with Distinction, supported by a PRS Foundation Scholarship. She has recently accepted an AHRC Award to study PhD in Musical Composition with Michael Zev Gordon at Birmingham University.

Selected by the BBC as one of the Top 100 Women, globally, Bushra has written various works for the concert hall, dance, theatre and multi-media, both performed and broadcast on radio and television in the UK, Europe, the Middle-East, the Americas and Australia. Her pieces have been performed by ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Panufnik Scheme 2012), BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Opera House (ROH2), London Sinfonietta, Manchester Camerata, Opera Holland Park, OrchestUtopica, Orchestre National de Lorraine (France), Ensemble Nox (Argentina), Atlas Ensemble, Ensemble Zerafin, Orkest de ereprijs (Holland), Lunatics at Large (USA) and Wissam Boustany.

Her string quartet,  Eating Clouds, was among the five selected pieces in the Aberdeen International Music Prize and was performed by members of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in April 2007.

She has attended masterclasses with Sentieri Selvaggi (Julia Wolfe), 13th Young Composer's Meeting in Holland with Louis Andriessen, Martijn Padding, Richard Ayres and Mary Finsterer, Acanthes in France with Hugues Dufourt, Ivan Fedele and Bruno Montovani amongst others.

With the pianist Tala Tutunji, she established the Chelsea Music Academy, a centre for music education, inter-cultural events and research specialising in Middle-Eastern and Western idioms, which was launched at the start of 2010. 

She is now artistic director and leader of Ensemble Zar, which is a fresh and fearless cross-genre ensemble whose mission is to express the Middle Eastern artistic temperament in its rawest form, and experiment with new sounds in the process. It’s musicians are well-versed in both Eastern and Western idioms, equally at home performing complex written contemporary music as well as masters of improvisation, relishing in the spontaneous nature of Oriental music. Ensemble Zar has performed for the Metta Theatre production of ‘Arab Nights’ (dir. Poppy Burton-Morgan, Soho Theatre production). It has also most notably played the live score to the world’s first feature-length silent film animation, The Adventures of Prince Achmed at the Southbank (part of Women of the World Festival - WOW) and Barbican as a Birds Eye View Film Festival commission, for which it received critical acclaim.

January 2014



Bushra El-Turk