Fouad Harraka is a virtuoso, highly regarded as one of Australia's best exponents and teacher of Middle-Eastern and Arabic music. He is a master of vocals, violin, oud, keyboard and percussion. He has arranged and composed for many artists and projects including a number of concerts, as well as documentary and movie soundtracks. He is the Protopsalt (first chanter) of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand, having expert knowledge in the ancient Byzantine ecclesiastical psaltika. He has resided in Melbourne and in Sydney, where he has excelled in his field continuously for many years.
Fouad Harraka is an Australian citizen of Lebanese heritage.
He graduated from the Saint Paul Institute of Harissa in Beirut, Lebanon, where he is renowned for his passion and prowess in music. He entered the Saint Paul University of Harissa and completed a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology in 1985. He also spent six years at the Conservatorium of Music of Harissa, culminating in a 5´I´ Grade in Musicology in 1986.
He is a member of many organisations, most notably, the Musicians Union of Australia, the Syndicate "Des Musiciens", "Professionaux du Liban" and the Society of International Composers.
Fouad is an expert interpreter of the language of music with a unique ability to tailor notes to emotions, words to sounds and songs to life. He has composed timeless works for many artists. Most notably, he created 'Bikaffina Harb Shbe'na' (We've Had Enough War) for Tony Farah and 'Ta'o Ta Nitla'a' (Come, Let's Meet) for Sayyed Fares. Other artists indebted to Fouad's music include Nadim Khalife, Silvana Darouni, Louis Kattoura, Nasim Zeiny, Marwan Abou Eid, Awni Nissrawi, Nasser Al-Masri, Fadi Assaf, Jacqueline Haddad, Abdullah Al-Saadi and many more.
As a master conductor, Fouad has lead and inspired many groups, both byzantine and middle-eastern. It all began with his time at the Saint Paul Institute of Harissa, where he conducted the liturgical choir for thirteen years, from 1974 until 1987. Upon his migration from Lebanon, he formed 'The Lord Leaping of Lebanon' and toured Malaysia in 1987. Then, after arriving in Australia, he formed the 'Knights of Lebanon' specialising in middle-eastern music, both classical and contemporary. He also promptly retured to his mother-church, conducting the choir of 'Saint Joseph Melkite Church' from 1989 until 2001 in Melbourne and the choir of 'Saint John the Beloved Melkite Church' from 2003 until 2010 in Sydney. He was recognised formally for his efforts as Protopsalt of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand by the Most Rev Issam John Darwish, BSO, DD, who bestowed him with the Episcopal Cross on 14 February, 2010.
Throughout his career, he has composed several CDs, which are a testament to his musical mastery. His debut album, 'Du'a Al-Tufula' (Call of Childhood) in 1998 set the stage for an original artistic style, appealing to children and the young at heart. This was followed by a collaboration with Indigenous Australians culminating in 'Tale of Two Peoples' in 2001. In 2005, Fouad recorded the 'Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom' for use by the faithful of the Melkite Catholic Church in English-speaking nations, the first of its kind. In 2007, he arranged and composed the critically-acclaimed 'Beloved Jesus' - a series of spiritually empowering compositions for use in Christian worship. In 2009, Fouad wrote and composed 'Ma Ily Ghairak' (I Have No Other But You), including the awe-inspiring 'Ya Yussef Oum' (O Joseph, Arise).
Fouad's music has also graced the screen. Most recently, he composed music in collaboration with Father Makarios Haidamous BSO for the Arabic epic 'Siraj Al-Wadi' (Light of the Valley), directed by Tony Nehmeh, starring Ghassan Estefan. His original composition powerfully retells the story of the Servant of God Father Bechara Abou Mrad, destined to be the first Melkite saint. From 1980-2009, Fouad arranged and composed music for many other dozens of projects, including films, documentaries and commercials. In 1980 and 1983, he worked on the music for Lebanese children's programs, 'Dunya Al-Atfal' (The Chidlren's World) and 'Faw' Droubak Ya Lubnan' (Beyond Your Paths O Lebanon). In 1985, he created music for a commercial for 'Araq Kefraya'. After leaving Lebanon, Fouad appeared on Malaysia's Channel 3 TV Tiga, with 'The Lord Leaping of Lebanon' in 1987. In Australia, his music featured on the Special Broadcasting Service Television (SBS TV). Most notably in 1988, 'Arabic Culture' and in 1991, 'From Zero to Zurich'. His 'Traditional Arabic Music' was also on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio in 1994. Other projects include 'Red Light in Full Flight' directed by Samia Mikhail; the films, 'Angel Baby', directed by Michael Rymer and Andrea Dal Bosco's 'Lebs, Lies & Videotape'.
His passion for live music, has inspired Fouad to perform in concert since 1989, with his debut at the 'Melbourne Arabic Festival'. Since then, he appeared annually until 1996. He performed at the 'Arithm Classical Music' Concert in the University of Melbourne in 1990 and 1991. The 'Apollo Bay Festival' was another chance for Fouad to artistically portray his unique expression of traditional Arabic music, being asked to perform in 1992 and 1993. He also performed with his Middle Eastern Knights in the Forum Theatre of Melbourne for 'Frontiers 2: World Music & Dance Explosion' and in Melba Hall's 'Shalom-Salaam-Asiti' in 2001. His most recent endeavour was conducting a symphony orchestra for the launch of 'Beloved Jesus' in 2007.
Fouad's interests include martial arts, ping-pong, swimming and nutrition (the way of fasting).
He currently resides in Melbourne, with his wife and three children.