The Named Angels, Vocal and Chamber Music by Mohammed Fairouz
This special evening, devoted to the music of highly acclaimed young composer Mohammed Fairouz, features the New York Premiere of The Named Angels by the Borromeo String Quartet. His latest string quartet, it is based of the mythology of angels in Arabic folklore. Also on the program are Lamentation and Satire and Chorale Fantasy played by the Borromeo Quartet.
The Cygnus Ensemble will also perform Fairouz's Three Fragments From Ibn Khafajah with soprano Elizabeth Farnum. This song cycle sets fragments from the love poetry of the Arab Andalucian poet. Rounding off the program are performances of piano works and songs with pianists Taka Kigawa, Blair McMillen and Kathleen Supové.
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 News as “one of the most talented composers of his generation,” Fairouz melds Middle-Eastern modes and 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.
A truly cosmopolitan voice, Fairouz had a transatlantic upbringing. By his early teens, the Arab-American composer had traveled across five continents, immersing himself in the musical life of his surroundings. Prominent advocates of his instrumental music include the Borromeo and Lydian String Quartets, the Imani Winds, The Knights Chamber Orchestra, Metropolis Ensemble, violinists Rachel Barton Pine and James Buswell, clarinetist David Krakauer, and conductors Gunther Schuller, Fawzi Haimor, and Yoon Jae Lee. He has been recognized as an “expert in vocal writing” by the New Yorker magazine and as a “post-millennial Schubert” by Gramophone Magazine. Among the eminent singers that have promoted his wealth of vocal music are Kate Lindsey, Sasha Cooke, Lucy Shelton, D’Anna Fortunato, David Kravitz and Randall Scarlata.
Commissions have come from the 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, and many others. Recordings of his music are available on the Naxos, Bridge, Dorian Sono Luminus, Cedille, Albany, GM/Living Archive, and GPR labels. Mohammed Fairouz is the subject of a documentary by BBC World Service TV, has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC/PRI’s The World, and has been profiled in Symphony, Strings, New Music Box, and the Houston Chronicle, among others.
His principal teachers in composition have included György Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, and Richard Danielpour, with studies at the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory. His works are published by Peermusic Classical. He lives in New York City.
Considered "Simply the best there is" by the Boston Globe, the critically acclaimed Borromeo String Quartet is one of the most sought after string quartets in the world. Audiences and critics alike champion their revealing explorations of Beethoven, Bartok, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, and Golijov, and their affinity for making even the most challenging contemporary repertoire approachable and enlightening has become a hallmark. They perform at the world’s most illustrious concert halls and music festivals, and continue long-standing residencies at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum (“one of the defining experiences of civilization in Boston” Boston Globe), the Tenri Cultural Institute (“one of New York’s best kept secrets” N.Y. Sun), Dai-Ichi Semei Hall in Tokyo, and the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music, where it has been the official Quartet-in-Residence for seventeen years.
In April 2007 the Borromeo Quartet was honored in New York with a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and in 2006 the Aaron Copland House honored the Borromeo’s commitment to performing contemporary music by creating the Borromeo Quartet Award, an annual initiative that will premiere the work of important young composers to audiences internationally. In 2003 they made classical music history with its pioneering record label, The Living Archive, making it is possible to order on-demand DVDs and CDs of many of its concerts around the world, a feat only previously attempted in rock music. The series allows listeners the chance to explore in greater depth the music they have just heard in concert, as well as explore new and rarely performed works. The Borromeo has enjoyed collaborations with composers John Cage, Gyorgy Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, Osvaldo Golijov, Steve Mackey, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Jennifer Higdon, Mohammed Fairouz, Derek Bermel, Lior Navok, and Lera Auerbach, among others. In 2000 they completed two seasons as a member of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society Two and served as Ensemble-in-Residence for the 98-99 season of National Public Radio’s Performance Today. Awards include Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award in 2001, Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award in 1998 and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1991, as well as top prizes at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France in 1990.
Praised by the New York Times for her “honeyed tone”, Elizabeth Farnum is one of today’s most highly sought-after vocalists in the field of modern music. Widely known for her high level of musicianship, versatility and range, she has presented modern works in venues such as Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, London's Institute for Contemporary Art, the American Academy at Rome and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, collaborating with such composers as Samuel Adler, Anthony Braxton, Lucas Foss, Ricky Ian Gordon, John Harbison, Peter Schickele, Charles Wuorinen and John Zorn. She has appeared as a guest soloist with many prominent modern music ensembles throughout the US and Europe, and appeared in a featured role in the U.S. premiere of Pascal Dusapin's To Be Sung, presented by L'Opera Francais. Farnum maintains an interest in many diverse musical styles, and her various interests have led her to performances on Broadway, at the Metropolitan Opera, and throughout the world on tour with acclaimed early music groups Pomerium and the Waverly Consort. In the oratorio and concert fields, Elizabeth has appeared as soloist with, among others, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Riverside Symphony, the La Jolla Symphony and Musica Sacra. A prolific studio artist, Elizabeth has been featured on over 30 recordings, four of which were nominated for Grammy awards.
Kathleen Supové is one of America's most acclaimed and versatile contemporary music pianists, known for continually redefining what a pianist/keyboardist/
Critically acclaimed pianist Taka Kigawa has earned outstanding international recognition as a recitalist, soloist, and chamber music artist since winning First Prize in the prestigious 1990 Japan Music Foundation Piano Competition in Tokyo, and the Diploma Prize at the 1998 Concurs Internacional Maria Canals De Barcelona in Spain, with such accolades from The New York Times as “Mr. Kigawa’s feat deserves the highest praise, especially since it was combined with such alacrity and sensitivity to the musical material ... brilliantly done … a careful and serious-minded musician, quietly poetic and considerate” and from The New Yorker “Unbelievably challenging program. Kigawa is a young artist of stature.” Kigawa's New York City recital in 2010 was chosen as one of the best concerts of the year by The New York Times. Also his New York City recital in August 2011 was picked as one of the most notable concerts in the first half of the 2011-2012 season by Musical America. He has performed extensively as a recitalist and soloist in New York, Washington DC, Boston, Cleveland, Paris, Milan and Barcelona, with appearances in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Kosciuszko Foundation, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Cité de la Musique, and Salle Gaveau in Paris, and Plau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona. He frequently tours in his native Japan, appearing in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagano and Kyoto, both as a recitalist and a soloist with orchestra and in chamber music groups. He has been a featured artist on many television and radio networks throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. His repertoire is extremely large and varied, ranging from the baroque to avant-garde compositions of today. He has collaborated closely with such renowned musicians as Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung and Jonathan Nott.
Blythe Gaissert has already appeared on the stages of Los Angeles Opera (Israelite Man in Judas Maccabeus, Cincinnati Opera, Sarasota Opera (Maddalena in Rigoletto), Tulsa Opera (Hansel in Hansel and Gretel), Lake George Opera (title role in Carmen) and Opera Southwest (title role in Carmen). Recent engagements include appearances with Des Moines Metro Opera as Mother Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites.and at the Lyrique en Mer Festival as Maddalena in Rigoletto and The Metropolitan Opera for their productions of Die Walküre and Nixon in China. Ms. Gaissert has participated in a number of notable programs for young artists, including San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Cincinnati Opera, Lake George Opera, Sarasota Opera, Aspen Opera Theatre Centre (Mother Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites and Maddalena)
and was is the 2010 Winner of the First Prize of the National Opera Association, and been a finalist in a number of other competitions, including the Jensen Competition, Giulio Gari Competition, Portland Opera/Eleanor Lieber Competition, Bel Canto Competiton, and McCammon Competition. She is also the winner of Sarasota Opera Mandelker Award. On the concert stage, Ms. Gaissert has appeared with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra (El Amor Brujo), Cincinnati Symphony (Zemlinsky’s Psalm 83), Colonial Symphony (Candide), Florence Symphony and the Garden State Philharmonic (Handel’s Messiah), World Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. She earned particular acclaim for her interpretations in world premieres of Colin Jacobsen’s To the Roaring Wind on the NYFOS NEXT series, and the Five Boroughs Music Festival Songbook. Other contemporary works performed include Andriessen’s Y Despues and Ligeti’s Sippal, Dobbal, NadiHegiduvel in their American premieres at the Aspen Music Festival and for a program of songs by Shostakovich for the New York Performing Arts Library.