Double Concerto, “States of Fantasy” (2010)

25 minutes
Solo Violin, Solo Cello, Orchestra ( /strings)
Commissioned by Ensemble 212 for Nicholas Kitchen and Yeesun Kim as part of the 2010-11 Composer in Residence Program


I. Fantasy
First Elegy
II. Funeral March: A State of Mourning
Second Elegy
III. Variations on an Imaginary Hymn of State


My Double Concerto “States of Fantasy” was written for Nicholas Kitchen and Yeesun Kim and was inspired by Jacqueline Rose’s monumental book of the same name. The Double Concerto is the first written for this astounding duo who have played together since their teens and are partners in music as well as life. The work is in two major parts. The first consists of the first movement (Fantasy) and an elegy for violin and cello without orchestra. The second part consists of the second movement which is a funeral march, a second elegy for violin and cello alone and the third movement (Variations on an Imaginary Hymn of State). The first part explores how musical fantasy relates to the psychological notions of fantasy while the funeral march explores the opposite: a state of being. The last movement is a series of variations on a national anthem of my invention for an imaginary state. The work was written on commission from Ensemble 212 as part of their 2010-11 composer in residence program.

— Mohammed Fairouz (2010)

For a long time now, I have been trying to grasp the relationship between the complexity of our inner lives and the violence of the world. In a way I have been trying to issue a wager to those who would prefer to consider these apart, or who do not see how the hidden, unconscious parts of who we are play their role in the rise and fall of nations. States of Fantasy is the book in which I first turned my attention to how this plays itself out in relation to injustice, and to the seemingly unending conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East. I am thrilled that Mohammed Fairouz has taken the book as the inspiration and starting point for his Double Concerto. As it moves from fantasia to elegy to an anthem for a state that cannot be named, from the play of freedom to mourning to the limit form of national identity, I am overcome by just how appropriate a musical, contrapuntal, rendering of this vexed interaction between the public and the private can be. As if there were no better form than music – on this I like to think the late Edward Said would have agreed – for exploring the anguished yet creative traffic between the stresses of the world and of the mind.

— Jacqueline Rose, Author States of Fantasy (June 23, 2010)


“The occasion was the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s double concerto for violin and cello entitled States of Fantasy… the music alone was a rich experience; in the greater context of the music’s origin, the experience was intellectually and psychically provocative. The program on Saturday evening… entitled “Duologues: Beethoven and Fairouz” … At first the juxtaposition of these two composers on the program seemed random, but the experience of the two composers’ music in proximity revealed similarities of intensity and passion, along with the integration of literary and historical inspiration… It is most difficult to critique a new work such as this because there is no point of comparison, except to the larger context of music’s ability to project directly as feeling and meaning without intellectual intervention. By this measure the concerto succeeded without question.”

— Phyllis Nordstrom, Classical Voice of New England

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