Chamber Music

Aleppo Songs (2016)
Instrumentation: piano solo
Duration ca. 16′

I. How Beautiful The Light Of The Rising Sun

II. Antiochian Hymn

III. Oh People Leave Me To My Sorrows

IV. The Silenced Guardian

V. Enough, I Intended To Leave You

The score is available for purchase here.

This work is a reflection on a number of urban folk songs from Aleppo, known as qudud, as well as original material.  All profits from sheet music sales as well as royalties generated from 2016 – 2018 performances will be donated to Doctors Without Borders to support their work in the Middle East. Other aid organizations will also be considered as this is an ongoing project.

Browse the score here.


Xarja (2016)
Instrumentation: Soprano & Percussion
Duration ca. 12′

Commissioned by soprano Sonja Tengblad and percussionist Jonathan Hess. Premiere in 2016 T.B.A.

View the score here.


Tesserae (2015)
Instrumentation: brass quintet (two trumpets in C, french horn, trombone, & tuba)
Duration ca. 12′

Commissioned for the West-Eastern Divan Brass Quintet, the world premiere took place in Buenos Aires on August 2nd, 2015 with additional performances on August 5th & 6th. Details here.

The word Tesserae (pronounced tes-uh-ree) is the plural of the word tessera and it defined as:

  1. A small square tile of stone, glass, etc, used in mosaics.
  2. A small square of bone, wood, or the like, used in ancient times as a token, tally, ticket, etc.

This quintet for brass under this title plays with both ideas; the first being a small square, among thousands of the same, that forms a much bigger picture. The first movement, which is based on a four note motif (A, G, Eb, F#), embodies this notion. The four pitches are treated as a square that rotates to produce other shapes. The ‘square’ 4/4 rhythm also figures into this idea but, as with real tessera in mosaics, they are never perfectly cut and there is always a jagged edge here or there so even what looks like a 4/4 meter is does not always fit so neatly in its bar lines.  The other meaning of tesserae, that of a ‘ticket’ or ‘token’ embodies the emotional side of this work, which is the expression of something that every composer or creative person must ask with each new output; “is this new piece acceptable as ticket or token? May I pass through?” This work was composed for the brass players of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and is dedicated to them.

View score here.

Score and parts available through E.C. Schrimer here.


Traces (2013)
Instrumentation: Clarinet, Piano and String Quartet
Duration ca. 23′

Buy score & parts here.

This work  is co-commissioned by the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, ASU Gammage at Arizona State University and The Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College for clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, pianist Sally Pinkas and the Apple Hill String Quartet. The premiere will take place in November 2013 at Dartmouth College followed by a second performance at ASU in early 2014.

Traces – World premiere performance

From its opening scream, throughout its expansive narrative and shimmering ending, Roustom’s TRACES tells a tale of sorrow, loss, and anguish.  In marvelous character delineation the three protagonists– clarinet, strings and piano, each assumes a distinct role in an extended play.  The work’s four sections– a pensive opening, a dynamic second section, a third of wistfully undulating music, and an energized Coda which gradually diminishes, create a tight dramatic universe.  Both soloistic and orchestral, drawing its language from European as well as Middle-Eastern roots, TRACES leaves the listener and the player alike, deeply moved.  I find it hard to speak objectively about the work, as I cannot anymore separate the emotion from the structure: this, perhaps, is its greatest achievement.Sally Pinkas – pianist.

Browse the score for Traces here.

Available from ECS Music: Score & Instrumental Parts.


A Voice Exclaiming (2013)
Instrumentation: Triple String Quartet
Duration ca. 27′

Listen to the April 28th, 2017 U.K. premiere at the Royal Academy of Music by The Behn Quartet, the Fitzroy Quartet, and the Kirkman Quartet :

A Voice Exclaiming I. Divisions

A Voice Exclaiming II. Consolation

A Voice Exclaiming III. Dabke

Buy score & parts here.

Commissioned for the Providence, R.I. based Community MusicWorks Chamber Players and students, and the Kronos Quartet, by Community MusicWorks and FirstWorks. A Voice Exclaiming was premiered on November 8th 2013 in Providence, R.I. Details to follow.  Photos from the first reading of ‘A Voice Exclaiming’ here.

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.” David Harrington – first violinist and founder of the Kronos String Quartet

Watch a video of the live performance at Waterfire in Providence, RI of Mvmt. III Dabke (Line Dance) by CMW Chamber Players and students.


A Muffled Scream (2013)
Instrumentation: Clarinet & Electronics
Duration ca. 13′

This is work is the latest in a series of solo or duet pieces that are reflections on the ongoing crisis in Syria.  The third in this series (the first two are ‘Letters Home’ and ‘Hanjale’) I wrote this piece after hearing about the tremendous suffering of Syrian refugees, especially children, at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Score excerpt here.

Hanjale (2012)
Instrumentation: solo Cello (or solo Mandolin)
Duration ca. 12′

Hanjale (solo cello) – Score

Hanjale (solo mandolin) – Score

Buy scores here.

There is an Arabic saying أول الرقص حنجلة (Awal al-raqs hanjale) which translates to “The dance begins with a prance.”  Like most such folk sayings, there are often multiple meanings attributed to them. Generally, this saying can be understood to mean something that begins with a small gesture turns into something much larger.  This of course can allude to positive and negative outcomes.  This work, a challenging and rewarding work for solo mandolin, explores this concept by using small Arabic music influenced gestures to let the dance unfold as it will.

Score available through ECS Music.

Letters Home (2011)
Instrumentation: Clarinet & Viola (Also available for Clarinet & Cello, Violin & Cello)

Buy score here.

Composed for the inaugural concert of the Brunel Insititute for Contemporary Middle Eastern Music
Premiered: July 6th 2011 London, U.K.
Duration ca. 6 minutes

 View score here.

Score and parts available through ECS Music.

Abu Jmeel’s Daughter (2011)
Instrumentation: Narrator, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola & Cello
World premiere took place on March 12, 2011 Péroy-lès-Gombries, France & the American premiere was on February 28th 2012 Philadelphia.
Duration ca. 35 minutes

Buy score & parts here.

A modern telling of an old Arab folk tale from a collection  edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi.  Ridha is a clever girl with average looks who wishes for beauty and Alwan is a prince who seeks the hand of a beautiful bride whom he’s never laid eyes.  Seven djinn sisters intervene to grant Ridha’s and Alwan’s wishes, but at what price?

The seven Jinn sisters appear to Rida, the heroine of the tale, and transform her.

Rida and prince Alwan wed at the palace, but the spell has taken effect.

Despite his great love for her prince Alwan‘s patience thins with his new bride Rida.

Rida’s third miracle (with the help of her Jinn sisters) is to weave a kerchief from the rays of the sun.

Score and parts available through ECS Music.

Resonances (2009)

Instrumentation: Arabic violin, solo cello, hand percussion & string quartet.

Udi Bar-David, Cello
Hanna Khoury, Violin
Hafez El Ali Kotain, Percussion
Noah Geller, violin
William Polk, violin
Che-Hung Chen, viola
Jesus Morales-Matos, cello

Duration ca. 32 minutes.

I. The Tightening of Strings

II. Aqsaq

III. The Repose of Souls

To purchase score and parts please e-mail: publishing(at)kr-music(dot)com

Buhur (2008) – Instrumentation: Clarinet, Violin, Viola & Cello
Commissioned by the Syria Trust for Development
Premiered by the Damascus Festival Chamber Ensemble
Damascus, Syria March 2008
Duration 19 minutes

Buy score & parts here.

Third Movement from Buhur.

View the score here.

Score and parts available through ECS Music.

Al-Ramal (The Running)

Al-Kamel (The Complete)

Al-Muttadarek (The Continuous)

That Which Is Adorned (2007) – Instrumentation: Mezzo Soprano, Violin, Viola & Cello
Premiered by X-Band in December 2007

Rachel Calloway – Mez. Sop., Noah Geller – Violin, Eric Nowlin – Viola, Jason Calloway – Cello

Duration 27 minutes

Three settings of English translations of Arab-Andalusian poems. The settings are inspired by the traditional genre of muwashshahaat music and the text is from Cola Franzen’s Poems of Arab Andalusia.

I. To A Persian Reed Blown About By The Wind

II. Absence

III. White Stallion

To purchase score and parts please e-mail: publishing(at)kr-music(dot)com

Amar Es Combatir (2007)

Instrumentation: Alto, Viola & Piano

Duration 7 minutes

Premiered by the Ibis Camerata March 2009.