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In the context of a world focused on the chaos and strife in the Middle East, Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz presents two new masterworks that combine the musical and textual backgrounds of the region, exalting the commonalities, and sharing a vision of unity and hope for peace. Combining massive musical forces with star powered soloists, this release – the second by Sono Luminus of works by this young composer called “an important new artistic voice” by the New York Times – delivers a musically, sonically, and spiritually engaging album that transcends culture or creed.
The opening work inspired by the Egyptian uprising, TAHRIR strips away vast cultural divides through the intertwining of Arabic modes and complex rhythmic patterns traditionally found in Arabic music with that of Jewish Klezmer Bands, delivered by world renowned clarinetist David Krakauer. The piece, which the Los Angeles Times praised as “an arresting tour de force” takes its name from the site where so many young voices were lifted up together in unity for change and provides musical proof of a deep commonality in the traditions that is overlooked due to deep-rooted stress between the two cultures.
Symphony No.3: Poems and Prayers is a poetic Middle Eastern journey scored for solo vocalists, large mixed chorus and orchestra. Leading the performance are GRAMMY® award winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and critically acclaimed baritone David Kravitz. Commissioned by The Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development at Northeastern University, the symphony expresses ancient and modern texts ranging from the Aramaic Kaddish to modern Israeli and Arabic poetry by Mahmoud Darwish, Yehuda Amichai and Fadwa Tuqan. Opening with the powerful chorus in Kaddishdelivered in Aramaic, moving to the hauntingly beautiful and poignant movement Lullaby (where Cooke is joined clarinetist David Krakauer), to the expression of frustration at the futility of war Memorial day for the War Dead, and the repeated call for peace throughout the work with the use of the text in Oseh Shalom, Poems and Prayers weaves together a narrative of shared loss and dispossession as well as hope and reconciliation.
Both works are delivered by the UCLA Philharmonia, joined in Poems and Prayers by the 170+ voices of the UCLA Choral and University Chorus, all under the direction of conductor Neal Stulberg and was recorded in historic Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.