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Mohammed Fairouz

 “… an important new artistic voice”
The New York Times

 “…[a] postmillennial Schubert.”

There has been a lot of music written about or inspired by the events of September 11, but only a small portion of it will stand the test of time. . . Mohammed Fairouz’s brilliant Symphony No. 4 for wind ensemble titled In the Shadow of No Towers is another likely candidate. Based on Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel of the same name, Fairouz’s four-movement piece features a powerful performance by the University of Kansas wind ensemble conducted by Paul W. Popiel of a composition that magnificently blends sharp commentary, satire, and deep-felt emotion over the course of 35 minutes. Beginning with a terrifyingly literal take on the event itself, Fariouz’s piece explores the complexities, contrasts, and contradictions of post 9-11 America, and further solidifies his reputation as one of the most exciting young composers in classical music today. A case in point is the third movement, “One Nation Under Two Flags,” where Fairouz brilliantly balances passages that bring to mind Charles Ives and Philip Glass with his own unique perspective. . . available now through Naxos. — UTNE Reader

"The Borromeo players achieve the special balancing act of patience and ferocity in Mohammed Fairouz's Lamentation and Satire, an intensely felt score in which the instruments engage in compelling duos, a fugue of doleful uregncy and a farewell utterly bereft of hope." — Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone Magazine

Recent and Upcoming Events

Nov.  21 Jebel Lebnan
Sarasota Orchestra Chamber Music Series
Sarasota Wind Quintet
Holley Hall, B. Friedman Symphony Center
Nov. 22 Scene from Bhutto (World Premiere)
Choir of Trinity Wall Street/Novus NY (conducted by Julian Wachner)
21c Liederabened
Produced by Beth Morrison Projects and VisionIntoArt
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Harvey Theater

Nov. 24   Anything Can Happen
Dickinson College Choir conducted by Amy Wlodarski
First Lutheran Church, Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA

Nov.  24 Symphony No. 4, In the Shadow of No Towers 
The University of Texas Wind Ensemble (conducted by Jerry Junkin)
Bates Recital Hall
Austin, TX

Dec. 4 Tahwidah
Sasha Cooke/David Krakauer
Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum
Los Angeles, CA

Dec. 5 – Various Chamber Works 
Schoenberg Hall, UCLA
Los Angeles, CA

Dec. 8 Symphony #3 “Poems and Prayers”
Tahrir for Clarinet and Orchestra (West Coast Premieres)
Sasha Cooke, Mezzo Soprano soloist/ David Krakauer, Clarinet soloist
UCLA Philharmonia/ UCLA Chorale/ UCLA University Chorus conudcted by Neal Stulberg
Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA
Royce Hall, Los Angeles

Dec. 13 – Pierrot Lunaire and Unwritten
wild Up conducted by Christopher Rountree
Timur Bekbosunov, tenor/ Jessica Aszodi, soprano
ART SHARE, Los Angeles, CA

Dec. 17 – For Egypt
Michael Dabroski
Mahmoud Darwish Museum
Ramallah, Palestine

Jan. 13, 2014 The Named Angels
Voxare String Quartet
DiMenna Center
New York, NY

Jan. 17, 18 – Chorale Fantasy, Lamentation and Satire, The Named Angels, Pierrot Lunaire 
The Burlington Ensemble
Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center (1/17); First Baptist Church (1/18)
Stowe, VT


In the News:


WNET New York Metrofocus feature on Symphony No.4, In the Shadow of No Towers:

Mohammed Fairouz Discusses his Third and Fourth Symphonies on NPR

In the Shadow of No Towers Slated for Fall Release on Naxos

In The Shadow of No Towers article in The Wall Street Journal


Mohammed Fairouz, born in 1985, is one of the most frequently performed, commissioned, and recorded composers of his generation. Hailed by The New York Times as “an important new artistic voice” and by BBC World News as “one of the most talented composers of his generation,” Fairouz integrates Middle-Eastern modes into Western structures, to deeply expressive effect. His large-scale works, including four symphonies and an opera, engage major geopolitical and philosophical themes with persuasive craft and a marked seriousness of purpose. His solo and chamber music attains an “intoxicating intimacy,” according to New York’s WQXR, which selected his CD Critical Models as Album of the Week.

Fairouz’s cosmopolitan outlook reflects his transatlantic upbringing and extensive travels. By his early teens, the Arab-American composer had journeyed across five continents, immersing himself in the musical life of his surroundings. His catalog encompasses virtually every genre, including opera, symphonies, ensemble works, chamber and solo pieces, choral settings, and electronic music. Prominent advocates of his instrumental music include the Borromeo String Quartet, The Imani Winds, violinist Rachel Barton Pine, and clarinetist David Krakauer, who all appear on his Naxos portrait disc, Native Informant; the Lydian String Quartet, The Knights Chamber Orchestra, Metropolis Ensemble, violinist James Buswell, and conductors Gunther Schuller, Joshua Weilerstein, Mark Shapiro, Fawzi Haimor, and Yoon Jae Lee.

Since childhood, Fairouz has found musical inspiration in literary and philosophical sources. The composer has described himself in Poets and Writers magazine as “obsessed with text.” His first attempt at composition, at age seven, was an Oscar Wilde setting; since then, he has composed an opera (with a second in progress), thirteen song cycles, and hundreds of art songs. He has been recognized by New Yorker magazine as an “expert in vocal writing,” while Gramophone has called him a “post-millennial Schubert.” He has collaborated directly with several distinguished poets, including Mahmoud Darwish, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney. Among the eminent singers that have promoted his wealth of vocal music are Kate Lindsey, Sasha Cooke, D’Anna Fortunato, Mellissa Hughes, David Kravitz and Randall Scarlata.

Commissions have come from the Rachel Barton Pine, the Detroit and Alabama Symphony Orchestras, Borromeo Quartet, Imani Winds, New York Festival of Song, Da Capo Chamber Players, New Juilliard Ensemble, Cantus Vocal Ensemble, Cygnus Ensemble, Counter)induction, Alea III, Musicians for Harmony, Seattle Chamber Players, Cantori New York, Back Bay Chorale, Reach Out Kansas, and many others.

His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall (all three auditoriums), Lincoln Center, Boston’s Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, and throughout the United States, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia. It is also heard in alternative New York venues such as Le Poisson Rouge, Issue Project Room, Roulette, and Galapagos. Recordings are available on the Naxos, Innova, Bridge, Dorian Sono Luminus, Cedille, Albany, GM/Living Archive, and GPR labels.
As an artist involved with major social issues, Fairouz seeks to promote cultural communication and understanding. His third symphony, Poems and Prayers for mezzo-soprano, baritone, chorus, and orchestra, interweaves texts of Arab poets Fadwa Tuqan and Mahmoud Darwish, the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, and prayers such as the Aramaic Kaddish. His fourth and latest symphony is In the Shadow of No Towers for wind ensemble. It is inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman’s book of the same title about American life in the aftermath of 9/11. The work premiered in March 2013 in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium; Steve Smith of The New York Times described it as “technically impressive, consistently imaginative and in its finest stretches deeply moving.” It has been recorded for future release on Naxos.

Fairouz’s first opera, Sumeida’s Song, is based on the play Song of Death by the Egyptian playwright Tawfiq al-Hakim. The opera follows the protagonist Alwan’s attempts to bring modernity to darkness and break a never-ending cycle of violence, with grave consequences for Alwan. Sumeida’s Song has been released on Bridge Records, and had its premiere staging at the Prototype festival of new opera-theater works at HERE Arts Center in NYC in January 2013. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called Sumeida’s Song “an intensely dramatic 60-minute four-character opera with a searing score… The Arabic elements of his style – microtonal modes, spiraling dance rhythms, plaintive melodic writing – give fresh, distinctive jolts to the Western elements.”
Mohammed Fairouz was chosen by the BBC to be a featured artist for the television series Collaboration Culture, which aired globally on BBC World Service TV (viewership approximately 70 million). As part of the program, which includes an in-depth profile of the composer, Fairouz developed and unveiled an entirely new dance work, Hindustani Dabkeh, featuring David Krakauer, the American String Quartet and Bollywood star Shakti Mohan.
Fairouz has been heard in interviews on nationally syndicated shows such as NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC/PRI’s The World, and The Bob Edwards Show. He has been profiledin the Wall Street Journal, Symphony Magazine, Strings MagazineNew Music Box, and the Houston Chronicle, and featured as part of a special segment on Sirius-XM’s Symphony Hall channel.

His principal teachers in composition have included György Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, and Richard Danielpour, with studies at the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory. Fairouz has been invited to lecture and lead residencies across the country at institutions such as Columbia University, Brown University, New York University, University of California at Los Angeles, Chestnut Hill College, and Grinnell College. He has served on the faculty at Northeastern University in Boston and several summer festivals, including SongFest and the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival at The Juilliard School.
Fairouz’s works are published by Peermusic Classical. He lives in New York City.

More information at


A video introduction to Tahrir for clarinet and orchestra; David Krakauer, soloist, with Ensemble 212 conducted by Yoon Jae Lee, premiered on June 9, 2011

New York Times Opinionator blog, July 6, 2011

SymphonyNOW Article, June 2011

Borromeo String Quartet performs Lamentation and Satire (video)

Premiere performance of Double Concerto, States of Fantasy; Nicholas Kitchen, violin, Yeesun Kim, cello; Ensemble 212 conducted by Yoon Jae Lee (video).

Opera Today interview discussing Symphony No. 3, the opera Sumeida's Song, and other works.