Ayoub sisters share their latest news and take us exclusively behind the scenes of their performance at the King’s coronation
Perhaps one of the biggest moments for the Ayoub Sisters, apart from their recent performance at King Charles’s coronation in Scotland, was the release of their new album solely dedicated to the music from the Arab world. “Something that we’ve always wanted to do,” one of the sisters reveals to Vogue Arabia. The two Egyptian-Scottish musicians enthusiastically share their latest news with us and take us exclusively behind the scenes of their performance at the King’s coronation in Edinburgh.
Sarah and Laura became known for their musical blends using only two instruments: the violin and cello, bringing together classical tradition with world music. However, in their latest album, “Arabesque” they particularly wanted to pay homage to and celebrate their Arabic Egyptian heritage. “We have dedicated time to research and found our favorite melodies, aiming to take beloved folk songs from the Arab world and rework them in a cinematic symphonic and classical style while staying true to the genre,” Sarah passionately shares. The entire project was engineered during the pandemic, with all its challenges, and finally saw the light at the end of last year. “We have been performing it all over, and we have been eager to showcase it in the West and introduce people here in the UK to this musical language and culture that we love.” Laura adds.
There may be a connection between “Arabesque,” the musical duo’s second album, and the coronation event. When King Charles saw the two sisters perform for the first time and admired their talent, they played a track from the album. “The king had heard us before, last year in September, at a very small and intimate event in a small church celebrating Classic FM’s thirtieth birthday. We played two pieces, one from ‘Arabesque’ and another Scottish piece from our first album.” After meeting then-Prince Charles backstage and shaking hands with him, the last thing the sisters expected was to receive an email from the royal palace almost a year later, requesting them to perform at the coronation ceremony held earlier this month in Scotland. “The email said that His Majesty had requested the two of us to play, and he wants to hear the same piece that we played in September, ‘Melody from Scotland,'” Laura recalls with excitement. She adds, “We couldn’t believe that this little church event back in September had left such an impact on him that he wanted us to be part of his special day.”
The coronation took place on the 5th of July at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. It was a day that will forever stay in the Ayoub sisters’ memory. “We arrived two days before the event, and we had to rehearse every day. It was a big operation with a lot of crew and personnel,” Sarah shares. Another dream came true for the two sisters at the same event, “We rehearsed with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, whom we grew up listening to and watching their concerts and it was the first time we performed with them,” Laura fondly tells. Donning two beautiful gowns by British designer Jenny Packham and having a long day of rehearsal, the sisters finally made it to the stage. “It was spectacular! The atmosphere was very supportive, positive, and celebratory,” Sarah affectionately describes. “I miraculously felt calm the moment my instrument was in my hand. It gave me peace. Although ‘Melody from Scotland’ is a piece we grew up listening to and playing, it was incredibly blissful to play the piece we love in that room with a group of talented musicians and in the presence of King Charles,” Sarah expresses. “It was reflective, calm, and felt like giving an offering. It was different from a normal concert. It was very comfortable to play. We hadn’t experienced anything like that before,” says Laura.
The sisters, who won the Arab Women of the Year Award for their achievements in Cultural Exchange in 2019, have been showcasing Arabic music in the West and positively impacting their audience. “Whenever we showcase our music to foreign audiences, we have only received praise. They absolutely love it. It’s so infectious. It’s inevitable not to move when you hear it and bond with it. People also find it nostalgic, especially those who have traveled or lived in the Middle East, so the response has always been positive,” Sarah explains. “We have just finished a tour in the UK and Ireland, and the audience was really diverse, but they all enjoyed the experience. I think that was the moment when we realized that this is something that resonates with everyone who has a heartbeat and an ear. They can connect with these rhythms without needing to know the meaning or where it comes from. Music has the power to touch you,” Laura concludes.