On December 2-8, 2013, UCLA will present “Listening to the Other: Mideast Musical Dialogues,” a groundbreaking week of public performances, master classes and panel discussions, culminating in a major Royce Hall orchestral and choral concert Sunday evening, December 8. With diverse co-sponsorship and hundreds of UCLA students participating, the week will highlight the important role music can play in promoting cross-cultural understanding and transnational reconciliation.
Anchoring the project will be two outstanding, genre-busting American musicians who are frequent collaborators: the young Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz and the veteran classical, jazz and klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer (Mr. Krakauer will be a UCLA Regents’ Lecturer for 2013-14.). Israeli composers Tsippi Fleischer and Betty Olivero will be represented with chamber performances of their music. UCLA faculty composer David Lefkowitz has been commissioned to write a new work for oud and chamber ensemble featuring Jerusalem-based soloist and alumnus of the Arab-Jewish Youth Orchestra, Thaer Bader. Vocalist Odeya Nini and the UCLA Camarades Alumni Quartet will join student ensembles in the December 5 concert. Events will occur both on and off campus; a commercial CD produced by the Sono Luminus label is planned; the event is expected to attract national and international press attention.
At age 28, Mohammed Fairouz is already an acclaimed composer of operatic, symphonic, solo and chamber works — an emerging compositional voice whose work is unique in its mediation of cherished Arabic musical traditions framed by formal Western musical procedures.
West Coast premieres of two of his works will be featured on the Royce Hall concert: “Tahrir” (2011), a clarinet concerto written for David Krakauer incorporating maqam and klezmer; and Symphony No. 3 (“Poems and Prayers”) (2010) for mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists, chorus and orchestra — a work which interweaves Jewish sacred texts (Kaddish, Oseh Shalom) and contemporary poetry by Middle Eastern literary giants Yehuda Amichai, Mahmoud Darwish and Fadwa Tuqan. “Kaddish,” a powerful and rarely performed cantata by the early 20th-century Russian-Jewish composer Alexander Krein, will complete the program.
The performers for the Royce concert will also include mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, baritone David Kravitz, tenor Ashley Faatoalia, UCLA Chorale, UCLA University Chorus and UCLA Philharmonia, all under the direction of UCLA Professor and Director of Orchestral Studies Neal Stulberg. The concert will be presented on the main series of CAP UCLA.
The residency will include a Hammer Museum symposium titled “Remapping the Middle East Playlist” featuring guest composers in conversation with other experts in the area of Arab-Israeli cultural collaboration, including UC Berkeley Professor of Ethnomusicology and Music Department Chair Benjamin Brinner.
While Arab-Israeli “fusion” music is not new, it has largely focused on the traditional music practices of diverse Middle East communities. Uniquely, this project examines these kinds of collaborations in an art-music context.
Project manager is Neal Brostoff (818-716-6211; email@example.com).
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