Steeped in the musical traditions of the Near East and trained in western concert music and jazz, Syrian-American Kareem Roustom is a musically bilingual composer who has collaborated with a wide variety of artists receiving numerous commissions to compose works for Kronos Quartet, Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and others. Roustom has composed works for Daniel Barenboim, the Kronos Quartet, the Landmarks Orchestra (Boston), the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Educational Department, the Michigan Philharmonic, the Crossing Choir, Coro Allegro (Boston), the Boston Children’s Chorus, the Gammage Center at Arizona State University, the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, the Aplle Hill String Quartet, and others. His music has been performed at the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra under Donald Runnicles, the Malmo Opera Orchestra (Sweden), the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra the Philadelphia Orchestra Chamber Music Series, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, the Michigan Philharmonic, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Choir of the 21st Century (London), The Peninsula Women’s Chorus in collaboration with the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus, St. Catherine’s College Choir (Cambridge U.K.), Chamber Project St. Louis, BOHO Players (Belgium), Gateway Chamber Players (Tenessee), Alba Ensemble (France), Notes Inegales (U.K.), LSO St. Luke’s (U.K.), the Verbier Festival, the Braunschweig Music Festival, the Rheingau Musik Festival, and forthcoming performances at the Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg), Pierre Boulez Saal (Berlin), the Klara Festival (Brussels), Staats Theatre Kassel Orchestra in Kassel (Germany), and the Royal Academy of Music (London). Additionally, Roustom’s music has been performed in Argentina, China, Japan, Armenia, and in parts of the Near East.
Roustom’s recent orchestral work Ramal, commissioned by Daniel Barenboim for the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, was described by James R. Oestreich in the New York Times as “propulsive, colorful and [an] immediately appealing creation.” Stephen Pritchard in The Guardian described Ramal as “arrestingly quirky and postmodern…music with lots of personality.”
Of his triple string quartet A Voice Exclaiming, commissioned for the Kronos Quartet and Providence, Rhode Island- based Community MusicWorks, David Harrington (Kronos Quartet founder and first violinist) wrote: “I think that with A Voice Exclaiming, Kareem Roustom has made a vivid, thought-provoking new piece that reflects hope in the time we live in, and the immense possibility for positive change as well as its awesome uncertainties and dangers.”
In a review of Roustom’s oratorio “The Son of Man” The Boston Globe wrote “The music… is pitched toward the impassioned, adapting Arabic-derived scales into a rich, heavily perfumed chromaticism, affording both eerie atmosphere and high-impact drama. Moment to moment, [Roustom’s] invention is prolific.” In 2012 Coro Allegro, under the direction of David Hodgkins, won the prestigious ASCAP/Alice Parker Award for the 2011 premiere of “The Son of Man.”
Roustom’s work in film has been recognized by an Emmy-nomination and includes a number of award-winning narrative and documentary films that have competed at festivals that include Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca and many others. Roustom is the recipient of the Pete Carpenter Fellowship from BMI and is a Sundance Film Composers Lab Fellow.
Kareem Roustom’s Emmy-nominated work in film includes a number of award-winning narrative and documentary scores presented at festivals including Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca, and others. He received BMI’s Pete Carpenter Fellowship and a Sundance Film Composers Lab Fellowship. Roustom has also written high-profile arrangements for pop artists Shakira, Beyoncé, and Wyclef Jean. Roustom is an oud player who has performed in the USA and Europe and has recorded for groups such as the Boston Camerata on the Warner Brothers Classics label. Roustom has been a resident/visiting composer at the College of William and Mary, Arizona State University, Curtis Institute of Music, Dartmouth College, Northern Illinois University, and the New England Conservatory of Music, among others.