Musical Performance: The Music of Halim El-Dabh and Mohammed Fairouz, with Special Guest, Kinan Azmeh

Sat, December 6, 2008 8:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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The Music of Halim El-Dabh and Mohammed Fairouz

with the Mimesis Ensemble with special guests Kinan Azmeh, composer and clarinetist and Christine Moore, soprano

Join us for the debut performance of the Mimesis Ensemble at Alwan in western classical works by Arab composers, with musical and programmatic influences from the Arab world, including renowned composer, performer, ethnomusicologist, and educator Halim El-Dabh, internationally regarded as Egypt's foremost living composer of classical music, and one of the major composers of the twentieth century, and Mohammed Fairouz, a fast-rising young talent in the contemporary music scene.

Watch Halim El-Dabh

Listen to works by Mohammed Fairouz


Mohammed Fairouz, Airs (2008) (World Premiere)
Kinan Azmeh, Prayer Dedicated to Edward Said (2006)
Mohammed Fairouz, 3 Elegies (2003-6)
I. Elegy for Edward Said
II. Elegy for David Diamond
III. Elegy for Naguib Mahfouz
Mohammed Fairouz, Tahwidah (2008) - commissioned by Alwan for the Arts
Halim El-Dabh, Sweet and Prickly Pear (1994)
Mohammed Fairouz, Lamentation and Satire (2008) (NYC Premiere)
Halim El-Dabh, String Quartet No. 1: Metamorphosis and Fugue on Egyptian Folklore (1951)
Mohammed Fairouz, Memoriam (2004)

Tickets: $20/$15 students (with valid ID)
(NOTE EARLY START - Doors open at 7:30)


Halim El-Dabh: Composer, performer, ethnomusicologist, and educator Halim El-Dabh is internationally regarded as Egypt's foremost living composer of classical music, and one of the major composers of the twentieth century. His numerous musical and dramatic works have been performed throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Among his compositions are eleven operas, four symphonies, numerous ballets, concertos, and orchestral pieces, works for band and chorus, film scores, incidental music for plays, chamber and electronic works, music for jazz and rock band, works for young performers, and pieces for various combinations of African, Asian, and Western instruments. His extensive ethnomusicological researches, conducted on several continents, have led to unique creative syntheses in his works, which, while utilizing contemporary compositional techniques and new systems of notation, are frequently imbued with Near Eastern, African, or Ancient Egyptian aesthetics.

In his works, El-Dabh frequently draws on his Egyptian heritage, as in Mekta' in the Art of Kita' (1955-56), The Eye of Horus (1967), Ptahmose and the Magic Spell: The Osiris Ritual (1972), Ramesses the Great (Symphony no. 9) (1987), and many others. El-Dabh's 1960 orchestral/choral score for the Son et lumière light and narration show at the pyramids of Giza (recorded the same year by the ORTF of Paris) was composed at the request of then-Egyptian Minister of Culture Sarwat Okasha, by order of Gamal Abdel Nasser. It has been played there each evening since 1961, and is probably his most frequently heard work.

El-Dabh has also created new systems of notation for the derabucca, and has revived interest in Ancient Egyptian (Pharaonic) language and musical notation. Many of his works from the 1960s on are also heavily influenced by West African traditional musics, such as Black Epic (1968) and Kyrie for the Bishop of Ghana (1968), and still other works bear the influences of the musics of Ethiopia, Brazil, India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other nations.

El-Dabh's music is published by C. F. Peters, and his works have been recorded by the Columbia Masterworks, Folkways, Egyptian Ministry of Culture and National Guidance, Auricular, Pointless Music, Luna Bisonte, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, NCG, Without Fear, Tedium House (Bananafish), Association for Consciousness Exploration, and Reference labels. There are entries on El-Dabh in nearly all major musical reference works, and his work is discussed in books by Akin Euba, Ashenafi Kebede, Adel Kamel, Gardner Read, and others. The first-ever biography of the composer, The Musical World of Halim El-Dabh, by Kent State University professor Denise A. Seachrist, was published by the Kent State University Press in April 2003.

Mohammed Fairouz: The music of Egyptian-born Mohammed Fairouz has been received with performances throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Australia in venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall and, the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. He has been featured on the New England Conservatory's Composers’ Series, Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s Eventsworks Festival and other festivals. Among the awards that Fairouz has received for his work are the Tourjée alumni award, the Malcolm Morse Memorial Award, the NEC Honors Award and awards from the Merit Funds of the New England and Boston Conservatories. He has composed a substantial body of work including song cycles for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Tenor and Baritone; a symphony; a choral mass and a piano sonata in addition to chamber music for winds, percussion, strings and numerous other instrumental and vocal combinations. His song cycles and art songs have been performed literally hundreds of times, being featured on recital programs across the United States.

Fairouz is active in the promotion and education of music. He has arranged forums for prominent living composers to discuss their ideas with the young. Among the composers that he has brought to New England is his mentor, Halim El-Dabh, Egypt’s most influential living composer, by facilitating a performance, at Jordan Hall of El-Dabh’s 1958 ballet masterpiece Clytemnestra.

As an educator, Fairouz has worked with the New England Conservatory's senior faculty member Malcolm Peyton in teaching topics in 18th, 19th and 20th century tonal composition. Fairouz has been invited to lecture across the country at institutions such as Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and Boston Conservatory’s Liberal Arts Department and has spoken on topics ranging from post-colonial critical theory to Mahler's Sixth Symphony to Al-Kindi and the Arab golden age’s contribution to European music of the renaissance.

Kinan Azmeh: Described as “engagingly flamboyant” by the Los Angeles Times and “a virtuosic, unique sound” by Lebanon's Daily Star, Kinan Azmeh is gaining the reputation of being one of Syria’s new rising stars. Combining solid classical training from the Juilliard School with deep understanding and appreciation of his roots and other cultures he has been exposed to makes Kinan feels at home maneuvering between different genres -- from classical, jazz, electronica and arabic music -- and is also what gives his compositions and live performances a unique quality and taste.

Born in Damascus, Syria in 1976, Kinan is the first Arab to win First Prize at the Nicolay Rubinstein International Youth Competition in Moscow, Russia, in 1997. Kinan began his music education at the age of six at the Arab Conservatory of Music in Damascus and later at Damascus’ High Institute of Music, studying with Shukry Shawkey, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof while pursuing his BS at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Damascus. He earned his Masters Degree and Graduate Diploma at the Juilliard School, studying with Charles Neidich, and is currently completing a doctoral music degree at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He has appeared as a soloist and composer in performances around the world, including Tchaikovsky Grand Hall in Moscow, Bastille Opera in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as solo performances with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra during its first American tour (UCLA's Royce hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Los-Angeles) with Solhi Al-Wadi conducting, as soloist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim at the BBC Proms festival in London, Berlin’s Philharmonie and the UN general Assembly in New York, the premiere of two clarinet concertos written for him by Dutch composer Guus Janssen at Lincoln Center in New York, and by Zaid Jabri at the opening of the Syrian opera house in 2004.

Kinan started the ensemble “Hewar" in 2003, a ground breaking music group that features clarinet, 'oud, and vocals, among other instruments, and aims to bridge the gap between the Classical, Arabic and Jazz genres in the performance of original compositions. He led the group in two American tours in 2004 and 2005, including performances at the reputed Kennedy Center as well as several European and Middle-Eastern tours, culminating with the release of two albums in 2005 and 2007. He has shared the stage with Sylvain Kassab, Marcel Khalife, Elliott Sharp, Kani Karaca and Mari Kimura among others, and is a member of the Neolexcia new music group. Kinan’s compositions include orchestral, chamber and solo works as well as electro-acoustic collaborative work.

Christine Moore: Praised by critics for her lush sound and powerful expression, soprano Christine Moore has performed opera and concert throughout the U.S. and Europe, including Mimi in La Bohème with the Leipzig Opera, Micaëla in Carmen with the Sacramento Opera, Madama Butterfly with the Central City Opera, Suor Angelica with Chautauqua, among others. Orchestral performances include Barber's Knoxville-Summer of 1915, the Requiems of Mozart, Fauré, Brahms and Verdi, Handel's Messiah, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and Mendelssohn's Elijah. A champion of new works, she made her Merkin Hall debut in 2000 in the NY premiere of Richard Thompson's work The Shadow of Dawn, and her U.K. concert debut in 2005 in Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire in Paxton, Scotland. In 2006 she released a CD, Arias, with the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Current projects include the role of Alice Dunbar in a world premiere opera based on African-American poet Paul Dunbar, and a recording, From Andalucía to the Americas–An Odyssey of Spanish Song, tracing the roots of classical Spanish song from its arabo-moorish and flamenco ancestors of "Al Andalus." Born in Sacramento to an Egyptian-Lebanese mother and an American father, Christine is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, and was a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions. She will make her Alwan debut singing Tahwidah by Mohammed Fairouz, set to the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, and commissioned by Alwan for the Arts.

Mimesis Ensemble: The Mimesis Ensemble opens its first season in 2008-2009 with a dynamic series of concerts comprised of solo, chamber, and chamber orchestra works by the world’s foremost living composers. Established with the vision of merging the highest quality compositions with the highest quality performances, Mimesis strives to foster close relations with the composers it programs. With great excitement Mimesis announces its first composer-in-residence, the foremost living Egyptian composer Halim El-Dabh. El-Dabh will be featured throughout the season, and the concluding concert will be devoted to his extraordinary achievements.

Members of the ensemble are among the most promising musicians of the upcoming generation. They come from renowned conservatories and universities, including The New England Conservatory, The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute of Music, Yale University, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Boston Conservatory, and Columbia University. Members of the ensemble frequently appear in prestigious venues and festivals, such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Aldeburgh Festival’s Britten-Pears Program, Tanglewood Music Center, Banff Music Centre, and the Aspen Summer Music Festival. These vigorous advocates for the flourishing of music are passionately dedicated to the performance of contemporary music.

Last updated: 2008-12-01 02:03:54

Halim El-Dabh
Halim El-Dabh
Mohammed Fairouz
Mohammed Fairouz
Kinan Azmeh
Kinan Azmeh
Christine Moore
Christine Moore

Alwan for the Arts

16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

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