• Strange Sea: New work for orchestra commissioned by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra I’ve begun researching background materials for this commission, which will be a 20 minute work for an orchestra of 47 or so players to be premiered in Malmö in May of 2021. The three main creative influences of this work will be poetry (Swedish poet Edith Södergran & Palestinian-Syrian-Swedish poet Ghayath Almadhoun ), the history Malmö as a port for refugees (both in WW II and in 2015), the science of waves. The challenge is to find the right tone between acknowledging the difficulties of refugee resettlement, and celebrating the idea of home. I wish that I could travel to Malmö before the premiere in order to observe things for myself. For now, I will only be able to research from across the Atlantic.
• Gnizo Duo for Violin and Percussion: This will be a ten minute work for dear friends that I’m very much looking forward to. The inspiration for this work will come from listening to Syrian Orthodox Church Antioch Liturgy hymns. These were recorded in a church that I used to visit as a child with my family. The work that I will write for my friends will not be religious, but, I suppose, spiritual and reflective on memories of a time and a place long gone.
• New work for dance, chamber ensemble, and solo voices – See my new blog post for updates on this project.
• Violin Concerto No. 2: with might and main – Commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for the DSO’s principal second violinist Angela Fuller-Heyde. This work is scheduled to be premiered as part of the TEXAS INSTRUMENTS CLASSICAL SERIES April 29, 30, May 2021. GEMMA NEW conducts ANGELA FULLER-HEYDE violin WOMEN’S VOICES OF THE DALLAS SYMPHONY CHORUS Joshua Habermann, director BEETHOVEN Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus KAREEM ROUSTOM Violin Concerto No. 2 [WORLD Premiere] HOLST The Planets.
I completed composing this work in early June of 2020 having begun it in November of 2019. The second movement was composed first and it is a very personal expression. The third and last movement was composed next and it is more reflective at the broader world. The first movement was composed last and is very much reflective on the COVID infected world as well as the righteous swelling of anger at systematic racism in the US and beyond. None of the three movements have titles but each expresses deeply felt emotions which I still need to think about how to put into words. The sub-title, with might and main, is a tautological phrase which means ‘with great vigor’ or ‘with as much force as possible.’ One online example of the use of this phrase was “They shouted with might and main but nobody came to rescue them”. This phrase really hit the spot.
• Ice, Wind, War & Spring (for choir and orchestra) – Commissioned by the Württembergische Philharmonie in Reutlingen, Germany. Duration will be circa 18 to 20 minutes. The text is in French (Antoine de Chandieu), English (Walt Whitman) and German (Rilke). This work meditates on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and gives voice to the civilian victims of war, the foot soldiers who fought and have come to some sort of reconciliation, and as well as the eternal hope that humans look for in the renewal of the life. This work will premiere on January 12 & 13, 2020 in Reutlingen, Germany.
• Clarinet Concerto: Adrift on the Wine-dark Sea – Composed for the CD project of clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and recorded by Kinan and the Deutsches Symphonie-orchester on May 2nd & 3rd 2018 in Berlin. The editing is complete and the CD will be released later in 2018 on the Dreyer-Gaido record label. The world-premiere concert is currently being organized. More details here.
• Violin Concerto No. 1 (for violin and chamber orchestra) – Commissioned by the Daniel Barenboim Stiftung for violinist Michael Barenboim and the Pierre Boulez Ensemble. This work has been completed and is currently in the score and parts formatting stage. Premiere on March 6, 2019 in Berlin at the Pierre Boulez Saal. Details here.
• Hurry To The Light (for treble chorus and strings) – A choral cycle of the women in The Odyssey of Homer, as translated by Emily Wilson. Commissioned by A Far Cry and the Lorelei Ensemble. Premiere on May 17, 2019 in Boston at Jordan Hall. Details here.
• Turn To The World: A Whitman Cantata (for choir and large orchestra) – Commissioned by the Grant Park Music Festival, in Chicago. Premiere on June 14th & 15th 2019. Duration will be circa 15 minutes. The text is by Walt Whitman and focuses on issues of social justice, corruption and democracy.
There are some smaller chamber works that I hope to complete in between (6 miniatures for solo viola, and completing the Soliloquia series for piano solo) and a few more large work projects further off in the distance, but they are still in the formative stages. However, the above will keep me busy for a while.