Izan Tajuddin, Tazul

Tazul Izan Tajuddin born in Banting Malaysia was a British resident composer. He grew up in Kuala Lumpur, later was in the USA from 1994-1996 and London, UK from 1997-2009. He was Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Harvard University in 2015-2016 invited by Chaya Czernowin. He studied music at Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia and received music scholarship award initiated by Malaysian Prime Minister in 1992-93 to further study in composition. He studied Master’s in Music Composition at Carnegie Mellon University, USA and Doctor of Philosophy from University of Sussex, UK. He attended composition courses at Manuel de Falla Festival, Granada, Spain in 1996 and Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique or Insitute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) in Paris, France in 2001.

His music such as the ‘Arabesque’, ‘Tenunan’, ‘Mediasi Ukiran’ ,’Gamelbati’ ‘Pantun’ and ‘Topography’ cycles have been inspired by Asian cultures (especially Malaysian and Malay cultures),gamelan music, Islamic geometrical patterns and Western European art combined with multi-cultural contemporary ideals utilizing the concept of woven sound, resulting in texture-based compositions or ‘sound fabric’. Prominent French composer Henri Dutilleux described him as ‘a very finely gifted composer and an original temperament, which encompasses both rigour and new ways of thinking’.  He considered himself self-taught though he has received guidance from teachers in USA and UK such as Leonardo Balada, Juan Pablo Izqueirdo, Reza Vali, Michael Finnissy, Martin Butler and Jonathan Harvey. He also has masterclasses with Franco Donatoni (Manuel de Falla Festival 1996, Spain),consultations with Brian Ferneyhough (IRCAM Academie d’ete 2001, France),meeting with Iannis Xenakis in Pittsburgh and New York in 1996 and Pierre Boulez at Fointainbleau, France in 2001. In 2003 he was invited by Toshio Hosokawa to the Takefu International Music Festival in Japan, invited to CANZ Nelson, New Zealand by Jack Body in 2011, 3rd International Contemporary Music Festival, Pharos Arts Foundation in Nicosia, Cyprus invited by Evias Sammoutis and 2013-14 invited to Frontiers+ Festival at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire UK by Joe Cutler. He also has been invited to gave composition seminars at King’s College London 2017, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2018, ERASMUS exchange program at Estonia Academy of Music and Theatre (EAMT) in 2019 and SoundBridge Festival 2013, 2015, 2017, 2021 organized by Studio C Kee Yong Chong and the Society of Malaysian Contemporary Composers (SMCC).

Prof Tajuddin was the Top10 Magazine Personality of the Year Award 2019 ‘The Legendary Music Composer’ presented by the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Arts. He has received the highest National Academic Award (Anugerah Akademik Negara) in Malaysia in the field of Arts and Creativity (music composition) 2017 presented by the Ministry of Higher Education and also received UiTM Academic Award in the same field in 2017 presented by the Vice Chancellor of UiTM. His choral arrangement of Malay folk song Jong-jong Inai written in 1993 was performed by National Choir of Malaysia and won first prize in mixed choir category at the 4th Bali International Choir Competition in 2015. In 2010, Sebuah Pantun III has received Reperoire Honorary Mentioned in the Carl von Ossiertzsky International Composition Competition in Germany. He was nominated for MERDEKA Award 2012, one of the prestigious award in Malaysia.

Tajuddin has been the first Malaysian composer to win 1st prize in the prestigious Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2002, 1st prize in the 8th Tokyo International Competition for Chamber Music Composition 2003 (Tenunan II, Joji Yuasa as jury),1st prize in the 2nd Molinari Quartet Composition Competition 2004 (Mediasi Ukiran – Tenunan VIII, Canada),1st prize in the 21st Japan Society of Contemporary Music Award for Composers 2004 (Sebuah Tenunan IV),1st prize in the Lutoslawski Composition Award 2005 (Gamelbati III, Poland) and won the New Millennium Composition Commission Award (Gamelbati, UK) 2005. He has been the first Malaysian composer to be shortlisted composer with the Society for Promotion of New Music three times in 2001, 2004 and 2007. His work Tenunan was selected by the Asian Composer’s League-Asian Music Festival, Tokyo in 2003. In 2006, International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM) Britain selected his work Tenunan II for the ISCM World Music Days 2007 Hong Kong, representing both UK and Malaysia. His works have been selected as finalist in the 4th Seoul International Competition for Composers, South Korea (Gamelbati VI) (2007),EARPLAY Donald Aird International Composition Competition 2006, San Francisco, USA (Mediasi Ukiran – Tenunan VIII),Derek Shiel Composition Competition 2000, London, UK (Mantera…),Edvard Grieg International Composition Competition 1999, Oslo, Norway (Jeritan),Carnegie Mellon Student Composition Competition Award 1996, Pittsburgh, USA (Self-Portrait).

Performances include Self-Portrait (1996, Carnegie Philharmonic Orchestra, Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh), Ritual (1997, National Choir of Malaysia (NCM),Experimental Theatre, Kuala Lumpur), Tenunan II (2002, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Opera City Centre, NHK Radio Japan, 2003, Carnegie Philhamonic Orchestra, Carnegie Music Hall, USA, 2007, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, HK City Hall) Pulsating Colours (2003, first Malay composer commissioned and performed by Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Petronas Twin Towers, KL), Meditasi Ritualistik… (2003, National Choir of Malaysia, National Symphony Orchestra of Malaysia, National Arts Theatre, Kuala Lumpur) Kehalusan Ukiran (2004, London Sinfonietta, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, BBC Radio 3), Mediasi Ukiran II (2004, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Pascal Rophe, Maida Vale Studio), Mediasi Ukiran-Tenunan VIII (2005, Molinari Quartet, Salle Redpath, Montreal, 2006, Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ Amsterdam), Gamelbati (2006, Sir Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire), Gamelbati VI (2007, Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, Seoul, South Korea), In Liquid Praise of Sound Refraining (2007, BBC Singers, Spitalfields Festival, London), Warna Yang Bernada for piano and ensemble was commissioned to celebrate the 50th Malaysian Anniversary Concert (2007, London Sinfonietta, Pierre Andre Valade, Cadogan Hall), Gamelbati VI (2008, Lackmuseum, Munster, Germany), Gamelbati III for string quartet (2009, XIII Lutoslawski Forum, Warsaw, Poland), Mimpi Dalam Lagu (2010, Kuala Lumpur, National Choir of Malaysia), Sebuah Pantun IV (2011, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, 3rd Pharos International Music Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus), Sebuah Pantun V (2012, Bridges Collective Ensemble, University of Melbourne, Australia), Sebuah Pantun II (2013 Frontier+ Festival, Birmingham Conservatoire, UK), Sebuah Pantun VI for solo flute (2013, SoundBridge Festival, Kuala Lumpur), Sebuah Pantun VII for oboe and piano (2014, Christopher Redgate, Frontiers+ Festival, UK), Topography for ensemble and Chinese instruments (Soundbridge Festival 2015), Mediasi Corakan Warna for solo piano and Gamel-Rawak for solo gamelan (6th Composers Series, Malaysia),Opera Puteri Saadong (2012-2016, ADOK, Japan and CHROMA, UK), Cairan Topography for 6 percussionists (Soundbridge Festival 2017, DPAC and 8th Composers Concert Series, klpac), Meditasi Lagu Dalam Mimpi for solo piano (2018, Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS), Kabus Pantun, Doctor in Performance, 3rd Festival Conference of Music Performance and Artistic Research (2019, Lithuania Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius), In Memoriam, Legacy Closing Concert of the Birth Centenary Celebration of National Artist Lucrecia R. Kasilag (2019, Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre) Manila, Philippines, Kabus Pantun (2020, BBC Radio 3). 

Other performers include Malaysian National Symphony, Thallein Ensemble (Edwin Roxburgh),Hertford Symphony Orchestra (Gerry Cornelius),Art Respirant (Japan),Ken Takaseki (Japan),Juan Pablo Izquierdo (US-Chile),Yoichi Sugiyama (Japan-Italy),Alter Ego Ensemble (Italy),Polish String Quartet (Poland),Bobby Chen (UK-Malaysia),David Alberman (ex-Arditti Quartet, UK),Ananda Sukarlan (Spain-Indonesia),Adam Sherkin (Canada),Nicholas Ong (Malaysia),Mei Yi Foo (UK-Malaysia),Daiske Kino-Shita (Japan),Max Riefer (Germany),Ildiko Allen (UK),Asian Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) Ensemble (Malaysia),CHROMA Ensemble (UK),Nathan Fischer (USA),Max Riefer (Germany),UiTM Percussion Ensemble (Malaysia),Tham Horng Kent (Malaysia),Yen-Lin Goh (Malaysia),Melody Quah (USA/Malaysia),Kamrul Bahri Hussin (Malaysia),Arjay Viray, Kasilag Festival Orchestra (Philippines),Datuk Syafinaz Selamat, Khairunnisa Diyana, Chaing Yi Ling, Phang Kong Chien.

He has received support from Fulbright Malaysia-USA, Malaysian Arts and Culture Department, Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, Society for Promotion of New Music (spnm now Sound and Music UK),Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, Performing Rights Society UK, Britten-Pears Foundation, Overseas Malaysian Executive Committee (London),Felton Trust Cambridge University, Asian Contemporary Music Society (ADOK),the Society of Lutoslawski and Kanazawa Citizen’s City Centre Japan.

In 2010 as artistic director, he initiated, conducted and curated the 1st Malaysian Composers Concert Series, to promote students and young composers and performers to perform new works collaboration between UiTM and KL Performing Arts Centre (klpac) (More than 100 shorts works have been premiered in this series). The event has been attended by Malaysian prominent figures in education such as Tan Sri Arshad Ayob and also Minister of Education wrote in his foreword: ‘Creativity is the essence of success in today’s challenging world. Every culture is imbued with its own distinct musical and artistic expression that is passed from one generation to another, thus creating layers of heritage to be cherished by all. Composition is often regarded as the pinnacle of such expressions and its performance gives birth to valued creative acts. The 4th Malaysian Composer Concert Series 2013 is one such endeavour which the Ministry of Education applauds. It epitomizes deep thinking, honed music literacy, collaborative actions and stylistic performance engagement at a heighten level of artistic discourse by a new generation of intellectuals.’

His first opera production Opera Puteri Saadong was premiered at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) in Jan and Penang Performing Arts Centre (Penangpac) in Feb 2015 was successful and very well received (Innovative cultural ornament, Malay Mail, 30 Jan 2015, ‘visionaries’, Borneo Post, 30 Jan 2015, ‘benar-benar menggamit perasaan’, ‘berjaya mencuit tangkai hati penonton’ Kosmo, 11 Feb 2015, ‘..terpegun’..’cipta sejarah’.. Kosmo, 29 Jan 2015).

Tajuddin started conducting in 1991 as assistant conductor of the National Choir, Malaysia and later in 1997 and 2003 he was invited as guest composer/conductor. He has conducted his own works with Carnegie Contemporary Ensemble (USA),National Choir of Malaysia, National Symphony Orchestra of Malaysia and from 2001 to 2009 Sculpted Sound Ensemble with artistic director Derek Shiel in London, UK. Since 2009, he has been conducting the UiTM Symphony Orchestra, Choir and Contemporary Music Ensemble as well as performed with UiTM Guitar Quartet with Nathan Fischer. He also has conducted new works by composers from Uzbekistan, England, Italy and Germany. He conducted his own opera in Malaysia, Japan and the UK in 2015-2016 and since 2010 at the Malaysian Composers Concert Series every year.

As a researcher, he has received Fundamental Research Grants (FRGS),Exploratory Research Grants (ERGS) research grants from Malaysian Higher Education on Malaysian traditional music such as Keroncong and Mak Yong and Geran Lestari by UiTM Selangor as co-researcher for compiling trios and string quartets works by Malaysian composers. He is also recipient to Lestari grant 2017-2019 for research project called Tracing Art Music in Malaysia: Focusing on Selected Composers. He received major funding Creative Industry grant from Ministry of Culture to work on his opera project (2012-2015). All research grants and commissioned works totalling to about RM2.5 million.

From 2017 until 2021, Prof Tajuddin is Dean Faculty of Music, was the head of Composition Program (2011-2014) and Associate Professor in Composition at Faculty of Music, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). He is Vice-President (2010-2011, 2014-currently) and President (2012-2014) for the Society of Malaysian Contemporary Composers (SMCC) and Associate Secretary (2018-2020),Vice President to Fulbright Alumni Association Malaysia 2020-2022.

So far, he has written more than 50 works. His works have been performed and presented in 23 countries and broadcasted in Asia, Europe, Australasia and North America. His works are published online by Alexander Street Press (US/UK),Babelscore (France) and recorded by ATMA Classique (Canada),FMR Records (UK),Ibersonic (Spain),FM Records (UiTM, Malaysia) and Dynamic Publication (Malaysia).



Published: Self-published

Original Works for wind

Cairan Topografi II (Fluid Topography) for 6 percussionists and Pre-Recorded Sound (2017-18)

Topografi III for 2 Guitars and Pre-Recorded Sound (2017)

Fluid Topography for Solo Bb Clarinet and 12 Players (2016-17)

Topography: Rough Edges (Circumstantial) for 10 Instruments: Dizi, Er Hu, Zhong Ruan, Gu Zheng, Yan Qing, Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Violin, Piano (2015)

Sebuah Pantun VI for oboe and piano (2013)

Sebuah Pantun V for mezzo-soprano, clarinet, cello and piano

New Work for Trio Accanto: piano, saxophone and percussion (work in progress: 2004- )

Gamelbati VI for piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola and cello (2006)

Gamelbati V for saxophone quartet (2006)

Gamelbati IV for piano, clarinet, violin, cello and percussion (2005)

Gamelbati – Mediasi Ukiran IV (The Mediation of Ornament IV) for soprano, piccolo/flute, viola and cello (2005)

Mediasi Ukiran V – Tenunan XII (The Mediation of Ornament V – Weaves XII) for flute, clarinet, violin and cello (2004)

Mantera… (excerpt I-III, V & VII) (Mantra…) for solo flute and 2 sound sculpture players (2004)

Sebuah Tenunan IV (Weaves IV) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (2003)

Mantera… (Mantra…) for solo flute and 2 sound sculpture players (2000/01)

Tenunan (Weaves) for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion and string quartet (2000)

Arabesque II for 2 piccolos and 2 violins (1999); Arabesque IIa (revised 1999); Arabesque IIb (revised 1999)

Lagu IV (Song IV) for clarinet and piano (1998)

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