Tahwidah (2008)

7 minutes
Soprano, Clarinet
Commissioned by Alwan for the Arts for Christine Moore and Kinan Azmeh


Tahwidah is the Arabic word for “Lullaby”. The first idea for this little song came from discussions I had with Mahmoud Darwish about setting some fragments from his epic poem, A State of Siege, to music. This never materialized and Tahwidah, written in late 2008 was my first reaction to the poet’s death that year. The lullaby is scored for soprano and clarinet and represents a nocturnal image of a woman singing to her love. The poem seems unusual for Darwish in that it is metered and resembles the 6th century form of ghazal. It is not until the last lines of the poem that Darwish breaks out of the meter and reveals that the woman has been singing to her son at his funeral.

— Mohammed Fairouz (2008)


If you’ll not be a rain, my love,
then be a tree
drenched in fertility… be a tree
and if you’ll not be a tree, my love,
be a rock
drenched in humidity… be a rock
and if you’ll not be a rock, my love,
be a moon
in the sleep of lovers… be a moon
(This is what a woman told—her son at his funeral)

— from Mahmoud Darwish’s A State of Seige (translated from the Arabic by Mohammed Fairouz)


Tahwidah Arabic Text

Media Inquiries