Meet your tutors: Ross Daly

Ross Daly is the originator of the term Contemporary Modal Music, which refers to contemporary compositional works which draw their influences and inspiration from the broader world of modal musical traditions which are found primarily although not exclusively in the vast geographical region between Western Africa and Western China.

In this work shop Ross Daly will  focus on an Eastern modal approach to improvisation (as encountered in the Middle-Eastern Makam and Dastgah world). This approach stresses the extension of small melodic “nuclei” or archetypes into myriad different shapes and configurations in such a way as to gradually merge into one another creating an ever expanding grid of modes and phrase material. It’s a totally different approach to improvisation which, unlike jazz, does not rest on chordal progressions. What Daly and Klampanis will achieve  will be to have  two totally different approaches to the same basic subject: improvisation.

Winter World Music Workshop


Many years before what we call “World Music” appeared on the scene, certain individuals had already understood the enormous value and vast variety of the world’s various musical traditions and had dedicated their lives to their study. One such person is Ross Daly.

Although of Irish descent, Ross Daly does not really fit into any particular ethnic stereotype given that his life has been spend in many different parts of the world and his home for the last 35 years is the island of Crete in Greece. Ross Daly, at a very early age, discovered that music was, in his own words, “the language of my dialogue with that which I perceive to be sacred”.

This dialogue eventually led him to the great modal traditions of the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent where he finally found the musical archetypes that he had been searching for all his life. In these traditions he encountered music which was not merely a vehicle of self­expression, but which was able to take one beyond what one normally perceived to be the boundaries of one’s self into other transpersonal realms of experience.

This discovery changed everything in Ross Daly’s life and he subsequently gave up all other activities and dedicated his life to the study of the innermost secrets of these musical traditions as well as to the art of composition. He subsequently travelled extensively, studying under many of the world’s greatest masters of modal traditions. Since 1975 he has been based on the island of Crete where he is universally recognized as one of the foremost experts on the island’s rich musical tradition.

He is also especially well known and respected for his ability to bring artists of different and seemingly unrelated traditions together in collaborations of unique quality and depth. In 1982 he established the Labyrinth Musical Workshop which is today situated in the village of Houdetsi 20 kms south of the capital city of Herakleion.

After many years of intensive training in a variety of musical traditions, Ross Daly turned his attention largely to composition drawing heavily on all of the knowledge which he acquired during his long apprenticeships. Today he has released more than thirty eight albums of his own compositions as well as of his own arrangements of traditional melodies that he collected during his travels. The island of Crete in Greece still provides a base for his personal and musical research as he continues travelling around the world performing his music.

Ross Daly has performed in many important venues and festivals such as: Carnegie Hall (2015), Migration Festival, Taipei, Taiwan (2006), International Lute Festival, Tetouan, Morocco (2006), Madrid Summer Festival, Sabatini Gardens, Spain (2006), International Festival, Warsaw, Poland (2006), Manresa Festival , Barcelona,Spain (2006), Athens Concert Hall (1993, 2006), National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland(2005), Konzerthaus Mozart Saal, Vienna, Austria (2005), Thessaloniki Concert Hall (2002), San Francisco World Music Festival, U.S.A (2005), State Theatre Company, Adelaide, Australia,(2005), Theatre de la Ville, Paris, France (1992-­93, 2002,2003,2005, 2008), Festival de Saint Chartier, France(2003), Municipal concert hall, Kayseri, Turkey (2006) Skala Aglantza Nicosia, Cyprus (2005), Urkult Festival, Sweden(2003), Passionskirche, Berlin (1994,95,96), Rudolstadt Festival, Germany (2002), Aarhus, Denmark(1997), Huset theatre, Aalborg, Denmark (1995-­97), Copenhagen, Denmark (1995-97, 2003), Les Nuits Atypiques Festival, Langon, France (1995), Nikos Kazantzakis Theater, Heraklion, Crete (1996, 1999, 2001, 2008), Sodern Theatre Stockholm, Sweden (2004), Archaeological Museum, Madrid, Spain (1998-­99, 2001), Festival of Murcia, Spain (1999), Isle of Wight Festival (2000), Oslo Cathedral (2004), Cemal Resit Rey Conser Salonu, Istanbul, Τurkey (1997, 2005, 2006),bWorld Music Festival, Skopje, FYROM (1999, 2003), Lycabbetus theatre, Athens (1987,91,93,98), Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, U.K (1998­, 2002), Purcell Room, London (2007), Clarinet Festival, Bretagne (2008), Jerusalem Oud Festival (2008), WDR, Munich,bGermany (1999), WDR Wuppertal, Germany(1992), Protestant Church, Brussels, Belgiumb(2001), Luxemburg Concert Hall (1992, 1994), San Sebastien Festival, Spain (2008),Nuremberg, Germany (1992, 2006), Cairo Opera House (2006), Emirates Palace Theater(2006, 2007), Frankfurt, Germany (1992), Epidaurus Theatre, Greece, Herodion Theatre Athens, Greece (1992, 1998), Bourges, France (2008), Al Dhafra Concert Hall, Abu Dhabi (2008), Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak, Malaysia (2008), and many others.

In Summer 2004 he was the artistic director of the cultural program of the Olympic Games for the Olympic city of Heraklion on the island of Crete, titled “Crete, Music Crossroads”. He organized and artistically supervised 15 concerts with the participation of 300 musicians from all over the world. Amongst others there were musicians of international fame as : Jordi Savall, Eduardo Niebla, Huun Huur Tu, Habil Aliev, Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan, Mohammad Rahim Khushnawaz, Trio Chemirani, Adel Salameh and many others. Today, Ross Daly continues travelling and performing in Greece and abroad whilst simultaneously directing the Musical Workshop “Labyrinth” in the village of Houdetsi on Crete.



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