LA Sketches: Dimitris Mahlis, Oud Artist

15 February, 2022

 

 

Dim­itris Mahlis in a record­ing ses­sion with the Los Ange­les Cham­ber Orches­tra (pho­to Michelle Shiers).

Two orig­i­nal tak­sim, impro­vi­sa­tions on the oud, from Los Ange­les musi­cian-com­pos­er Dim­itris Mahlis.

 

Dimitris Mahlis

 

Oud­ist, gui­tarist, and com­pos­er Dim­itris Mahlis has become known in musi­cal cir­cles as an eclec­tic inter­preter of many musi­cal tra­di­tions. Hav­ing a thor­ough knowl­edge of both east­ern and west­ern musi­cal the­o­ry, he has devel­oped a play­ing style on sev­er­al instru­ments which is both earthy yet intri­cate. As a com­pos­er, his pieces have set a stan­dard in cross-cul­tur­al pol­li­na­tion. He says now, “The oud for me has been a musi­cal jour­ney of self reflec­tion. It’s a chal­leng­ing instru­ment to achieve some lev­el of pro­fi­cien­cy pre­cise­ly because it is basi­cal­ly very sim­ple — by that I mean it con­sists of just wood and strings. Like most ancient tra­di­tion­al instru­ments, there are no bells and whis­tles so to speak. This means that the artist has to spend the time to devel­op a rela­tion­ship with the instru­ment, hence musi­cal self reflec­tion of the soul. And indeed in a place as strange­ly lone­ly and melan­cholic as Los Ange­les, spend­ing the time on such an endeav­or of the soul is often at odds with this city. Which is exact­ly why it is so valu­able and much need­ed in these very strange times in which we live.”

 

Dim­itris’s orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions can be heard on sev­er­al record­ings with the duo Wahid, the Mahlis-Panos Project, and the duo Diaplus. He is also fea­tured on the sound­track to the Oscar-win­ning film Argo, and most recent­ly on the crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed film The Angel.