The music of Mohammed Fairouz straddles multiple worlds from the Sanskrit invocations of the
Bagavad Gita, to the Latin Mass and Arabic music, minimalism, indie rock, romantic tonality, jazz,
thorny modernism, musical theater, the avant-garde and other idioms. By his early teens, Fairouz
had traveled across five continents and avidly immersed himself in the musical life of his
surroundings, learning to play the didgeridoo in Australia, the oud in Lebanon and attending
seminars at the Acadmie Nationale de la Musique in Paris. His early musical training was in
composition and piano with teachers at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music in
London. Throughout his childhood and teens, Fairouz had developed and nurtured a passion for
improvisation which culminated in a series of improvisatory concerts that he delivered throughout
the Middle East during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Among his formative musical experiences that had a lasting effect on him, one of the most
pronounced was a series of master classes with Sir Thomas Allen which impacted Fairouz’s
outlook on the voice and vocal music. He later presented Allen with his setting of a poem by Oscar
Wilde. That was the first song in Fairouz’s love affair with the voice that has, to date, produced an
opera, eight song cycles and tens of art songs.
Fairouz’s substantial body of work in every genre including opera, song cycles for Soprano, Mezzo
Soprano, Tenor and Baritone; symphonic and choral works, piano music and electronic music in
addition to chamber music for winds, percussion, strings and numerous other instrumental and
vocal combinations, has been extensively performed throughout the United States, Europe, the
Middle East and Australia in venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall
and the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. His music has been featured at the Bienalle di
Venezia, the Kennedy Center's Festival of Contemporary Music, the New England Conservatory's
Composers’s Series, Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s Eventsworks Festival, the Boston
Conservatory’s New Music Week and other festivals.
Among the performers of his work are the Borromeo String Quartet who have championed his
Lamentation and Satire and are recording it for the GM label, the Mimesis Ensemble, the Ibis
Camerata, the Second Instrumental Unit, Counter)induction, the New England Conservatory
Contemporary Ensemble, Freisinger Chamber Orchestra, the conductors Gunther Schuller, John
Page, David Hoose, Malcolm Peyton, Yoichi Udagawa and others.
His music is the subject of multiple essays including David Gutkin’s Putting on Airs and Joan
Pamies’ probing exploration of the Bonsai Journal and Airs in his portrait of outstanding young
composers currently working in America which is published in the prominent Spanish musical
Fairouz’s song cycle, Bonsai Journal is a feature piece on the Ibis Camerata’s CD "Boston Diary"
Albany Records. His song cycles and art songs have been performed hundreds of times, being
featured on recital programs across the United States.
As a cultural ambassador, Fairouz is currently working with Musicians for Harmony to fulfill a
commission for a large chamber work promoting dialogue between Arabic and Jewish musical
traditions and cultural trends. A similar project, being conceptualized by Joshua Jacobson and the
Zamir Chorale of Boston involves the commission of a large scale oratorio setting the poetry of
modern Arab poets such as Mahmoud Darwish and Fadwa Tuqan with Yehuda Amichai and other
Israeli counterparts as well as drawing on the sacred and secular texts of the Jewish, Christian and
Islamic Middle East to weave together a narrative drama that seeks to illuminate the counterpoint
between the poetics, musics, languages and peoples in the region.
Fairouz has extensively set the works of Arab poets including Mahmoud Darwish in his Tahwidah,
written to fulfill a commission from Alwan for the Arts, a Manhattan-based Arab arts organization as
well as lines from the Hebrew Kaddish in his Elegy for David Diamond.
Among the awards that Fairouz has received for his work are the Tourjee alumni award, the
Malcolm Morse Memorial Award, the NEC Honors Award, the New England Conservatory
Contemporary Ensemble Prize and awards from the Merit Funds of the New England and Boston
Conservatories. In 2008, he was honored with a national citation from the embassy of the United
Arab Emirates in Washington D.C. for outstanding achievement in artistry and scholarship.
As an educator, Fairouz has been invited to lecture across the country at institutions such as
Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, University of Western Michigan and Boston Conservatory’s
Liberal Arts Department speaking on topics that range from post-colonial critical theory to Mahler's
Sixth Symphony to Al-Kindi and the Arab golden’s contribution to European music of the
Fairouz’s teachers in composition have included John Heiss, Malcolm Peyton, Gunther Schuller
and Halim El-Dabh.
Recordings on the Albany and GM labels.
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Artwork: Watercolor for Mohammed Fairouz's
Requiem Mass by Jordan Montgomery
|Copyright © 2009 by Mohammed Fairouz
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With Halim El-Dabh