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THE COPTIC AYOUB SISTERS MISGUIDED

July 18, 2019

Ayoub Sisters

 The Coptic Ayoub Sisters, the cellist Sarah (L) and the violinist Laura (R)

Sara and Laura, the beautiful and intelligent Ayoub Sisters are Copts. This is their primary cultural identity. Their Coptic parents are from Egypt. They themselves are not Egyptian by nationality but Scottish (they were both born near Glasgow), or if you will, British. They emerged in 2015 as classical musicians, trained in playing on the violin, cello and piano; and since then they have taken the world by storm, won many musical awards and made appearances all over the world. It was the English-American musician, Mark Ronson, who discovered them, but they are primarily grateful to their parents, who arrived in Scotland some thirty years ago, and love classical music, and to Scotland which provided them with the right environment to develop their musical talent and career. Sarah is reported to have said: “There was a system [in Scotland] in place to nurture and support talent. Had we been born and raised somewhere else, it might have been a different story.”[1] It would have definitely been different had they been born in Egypt.

With their version of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk they topped the UK classical music charts and made them known widely. But it is their Melodies from Scotland, revealing their taste for traditional Scots tunes, which is their greatest hit. Scotland took pride in them particularly after it.

Even though their music is primarily classical, they have a wide taste of music. They produced their version of some Egyptian music, such as Ah Ya Zein:

The Ayoub Sisters, only 27 and 24 years old, have been introduced to the world as Scottish-Egyptian. I think this is regrettable, for they are Coptic-Scottish; and in this identity they should be introduced. It is this sort of influence by those who introduce them to the world of music which misdirects them. The cellist Sarah Ayoub has been reported to say, “We are Scottish-Egyptian so traditional music from both countries played a part in our influences.”[2] But Egyptian music is Arabic music; and it is entirely different from Coptic music. With the right guidance, the Ayoub Sisters can get themselves inspired by Coptic music to produce a modern version of it, perhaps using the violin, cello and piano together with the triangle and cymbals, and therefore convey the rich spirituality of Coptic music to the world.

The beauty of Coptic music is waiting to be revealed to the world. And it would be a shame if the Coptic Ayoub Sisters do not take the opportunity for being the pioneers to do so.

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[1] See: The Ayoub Sisters: Egyptian-Scottish Musical Duo Know No Bounds by Florence Dixon in The New Arab (13 July 2018).

[2] See: The Scottish Sisters Taking Classical Music Uptown by Steven Brocklehurst (BBC Scotland news website, 07 October 2017).

One Comment leave one →
  1. nabil sabry Isshak permalink
    July 18, 2019 10:47 pm

    I quite agree. Mina Salama, another Coptic musician resident in the UK has his work on Coptic music and, to the best of my knowledge, well acquainted with the Ayoub Sisters. May be it’s a good idea to discuss this matter with him.

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