“Roustom’s new work, the evening’s centerpiece—an expression of hope for his Syrian birthplace in the face of appalling violence—was the most effective of the evening’s Kronos commissions, mainly, I think, because his crossing of genres, his strategy of adapting Arabic musical materials to Western forms came with a certain clarity of purpose.”
Clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh was born in Damascus, but now lives in New York, where he wakes up to bad news each day. One of his compositions, “A Sad Morning, Every Morning,” is dedicated to the victims of the Syrian conflict, now in its third year.
Also featured tonight will be works by Joseph Haydn and Mieczyslaw Weinberg and the world premiere of two compositions by the composer Kareem Roustom— also born in Damascus. Roustom has not been back to Syria since 2008; Azmeh since July 2012 , but the people who are suffering in their war-torn homeland are never far from their hearts or their music. We spoke to Kinan Azmeh and Kareem Routsom from Dartmouth’s studio about homeland.
My 2007 work ‘Hot Tea, Mint & Olives’, with text by the wonderful Ibtisam Barkaat, is now available from ECS Publishing through MorningStar Music. Scores and audio are available here. This work was originally commissioned by the Boston Children’s Chorus. and fluidly combines elements of Arabic music with Western choral writing.