Mohammed Fairouz

Mohammed Fairouz (born November 1, 1985) is an American composer.

Mohammed Fairouz at work on his second symphony in New York City, 2009

He is one of the most frequently performed composers of his generation[1] and has been described by Daniel J. Wakin of The New York Times as an "important new artistic voice".[2]

Fairouz began composing at an early age and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music. His teachers included Gunther Schuller, Halim El-Dabh, and John Heiss.[3]

Fairouz lives in New York City.

Vocal musicEdit

Fairouz says that he first set the poem "The True Knowledge" by Oscar Wilde to music at the age of 7[4] and has gone on to write hundreds of art songs and over a dozen song cycles.[5][6] In Poets & Writers Magazine, he described himself as being obsessed with text.[6]

Three Fragments of Ibn Khafājah was commissioned by the Cygnus Ensemble[7] and sets poetry by Arab Andalucian poet Ibn Khafaja.

Musicians for Harmony commissioned the song cycle Furia for baritone Randall Scarlata together with the Imani Winds and the Borromeo String Quartet and sets Western texts about the Middle East.[8]

Jeder Mensch, was written for Kate Lindsey with texts set from the diaries of Alma Mahler.[9] Lindsey is also the soloist in a 2014 recording of Fairouz's 2012 cycle, Audenesque (in memory of W. B. Yeats), with the LPR Ensemble conducted by Evan Rogister, released in 2015 on the Deutsche Grammophon label (catalog no. B0022417). The disc also features Fairouz's 2013 instrumental work, Sadat.

Fairouz has also collaborated extensively with living poets. Bonsai Journal, on texts by Judson Evans, was released on Albany Records.[10]

Fairouz's theatrical song cycle, written with Wayne Koestenbaum, titled Pierrot was commissioned by the Da Capo Chamber Players.

The Pierrot ensemble, Lunatics at Large commissioned the cycle Unwritten on texts by David Shapiro.[11]

Fairouz has also written an oratorio entitled Zabur, which was premiered by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in April 2015.[12] Staying true to his focus on text, the work sets a libretto by Najla Said and features text in both Arabic and English. Zabur is scored for a full orchestra, mixed choir, children's mixed choir, tenor soloist, and baritone soloist.


Sumeida's Song is Fairouz's first opera and is based on the play Song of Death by the Egyptian playwright Tawfiq al-Hakim[13] The opera follows the return of the protagonist Alwan to his Upper Egyptian peasant village, and his attempts to bring modernity to darkness in an effort to break a never ending cycle of violence. The opera also clearly depicts the grave consequences of this pioneering energy.[13] The opera is recorded on Bridge Records.[14]

In May 2015, MSNBC's Morning Joe announced that Mohammed Fairouz would be teaming up with best-selling American author David Ignatius to create a political opera called 'The New Prince' based on the teachings of Niccolò Machiavelli. The opera was commissioned by the Dutch National Opera[15] Speaking with The Washington Post, Ignatius described the broad themes of the opera in terms of three chapters: "The first chapter is about revolution and disorder. Revolutions, like children, are lovable when young, and they become much less lovable as they age. The second lesson Machiavelli tells us is about sexual obsession, among leaders. And then the final chapter is basically is the story of Dick Cheney [and] bin Laden, the way in which those two ideas of what we’re obliged to do as leaders converged in such a destructive way."[16]

Fairouz is also currently at work on a new opera about the lives and deaths of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.[17] The opera features Nathan Gunn and Kate Lindsey in the lead roles and the libretto is being written in collaboration with the prominent Pakistani author Mohammed Hanif.[18]

Orchestral musicEdit


Fairouz has written four symphonies. His Third Symphony, Poems and Prayers was commissioned by Northeastern University's Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development and is cast for solo voices, mixed chorus and orchestra.[19] The Symphony sets the texts of Arab poets such as Fadwa Tuqan and Mahmoud Darwish, the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, as well as prayers such as the Aramaic Kaddish.[20] The Third Symphony was premiered on February 16, 2012 by conductor Yoon Jae Lee, mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway, Baritone David Kravitz, Ensemble 212 and The Young New Yorkers Chorus at the Miller Theater at Columbia University.[21]

Fairouz's Fourth Symphony In the Shadow of No Towers is scored for wind ensemble and is inspired by Art Spiegelman's graphic novel of the same title. The symphony explores American life in the aftermath of 9/11.[3] It was described by The New York Times as "technically impressive, consistently imaginative and in its finest stretches deeply moving".[22] The symphony has been recorded on Naxos Records by the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Paul Popiel.[23]

The final movement of Fairouz's First Symphony Homage to a Belly Dancer is based on an essay by Edward Said about the Egyptian belly dancer Tahia Carioca.[5]


Fairouz's Cello Concerto was written for Israel-born cellist Maya Beiser for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It was premiered by the Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Slatkin.[24]

Fairouz has written a violin concerto called Al-Andalus for Rachel Barton Pine and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.[25] The concerto was praised at its premiere for containing "some of the most melancholy and nostalgic writing heard yet among ASO's new music projects".[26]

Fairouz's Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and orchestra States of Fantasy was commissioned by New York-based orchestra Ensemble 212. It is inspired by Jacqueline Rose's book of the same title and was written for violinist Nicholas Kitchen and cellist Yeesun Kim of the Borromeo String Quartet.[5][20]

Fairouz has also written a clarinet concerto, Tahrir, for David Krakauer. The work takes its title from Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.[27] This piece was commissioned by a group of alumni of NYC's Wagner Junior High School in memory of teacher Herb Greenhut. Krakauer is also a Wagner alum.

Akhnaten, Dweller in Truth, a dance scene for cello and orchestra, takes its name from Naguib Mahfouz's book of the same title.[28]

Chamber and solo musicEdit

Fairouz's Wind Quintet, Jebel Lebnan, written for the Imani Winds, musically chronicles events from the Lebanese Civil War. The Imani Winds recorded the work for Naxos Records.[29]

His Lamentation and Satire for string quartet was recorded by the Borromeo String Quartet for release on GM/Living Archive Recordings.[30]

His string quartet, The Named Angels, was also written for the Borromeo String Quartet.[31] The work, about the mythology of angels in Middle Eastern Folklore,[32] has been recorded by the Del Sol Quartet on the Sono Luminus record label.[33]

Fairouz has written a sonata for unaccompanied violin (2011) called Native Informant for Rachel Barton Pine.[34] Native Informant is the title work of a Naxos Records album of Fairouz's chamber music.[29]



  1. ^ "Collaboration three: The artists". BBC News. 9 July 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  2. ^ Wakin, Daniel (January 15, 2012). "The Week Ahead: Jan. 15-Jan. 21". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b "Mohammed Fairouz Biography". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Mohammed Fairouz - The World in Counterpoint". On Being with Krista Tippett. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Rase, Sherri (April 8, 2011), Conversations—with Mohammed Fairouz Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine, [Q]onStage, retrieved 2011-04-19
  6. ^ a b Fischer, Shell (March 1, 2011), Poets, Composers Find Sanctuary, Poets & Writers, retrieved 2011-04-19
  7. ^ Ensemble, Cygnus (24 May 2017). "Cygnus Ensemble :: A Place for Experimental Music". Cygnus Ensemble. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Musicians For Harmony". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  9. ^ Hoffman, Gary (September 13, 2011), Kate Lindsey: An Interview, Opera Today, retrieved 2011-04-09
  10. ^ Albany Records Catalog entry for Boston Diaries, retrieved 2011-04-09
  11. ^ Lunatics at Large: The Sanctuary Project
  12. ^ "Faure Requiem & Fairouz Zabur - Indianapolis Symphonic Choir". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  13. ^ a b (April 5, 2011),Mohammed Fairouz's Opera Sumeida's Song Archived 2011-08-23 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2011-04-09
  14. ^ "Bridge Records Catalog Page for Sumeida's Song". Archived from the original on 18 November 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Morning Joe: Composer and Journalist Team Up for Opera". MSNBC.
  16. ^ Midgette, Anne (May 8, 2015). "The New Librettist of 'The New Prince'". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  17. ^ Beth Morrison Projects Page for Bhutto
  18. ^ "Opera America Page for Bhutto". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-03-28.
  19. ^ Mohammed Fairouz: Works List
  20. ^ a b Moore, Thomas (September 12, 2010), Mohammed Fairouz: An Interview, Opera Today, retrieved 2011-04-19
  21. ^ "Past Seasons - Young New Yorkers' Chorus". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  22. ^ Smith, Steve (30 March 2013). "University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, at Carnegie Hall". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  23. ^ "GLASS, P.: Concerto Fantasy for 2 Timpanists and Orchestra (arr. M. Lortz) / FAIROUZ, M.: Symphony No. 4 (University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, Popiel) - 8.573205". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  24. ^ Detroit Symphony page for Fairouz Cello Concerto/>
  25. ^ "Works - Mohammed Fairouz". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  26. ^ Review from Premiere of Al-Andalus
  27. ^ "David Krakauer- Upcoming Shows (2011)". Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  28. ^ "Beyond poems and prayers: Mohammed Fairouz's Akhenaten celebrates young people affecting change and paying the price for it". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  29. ^ a b Naxos Records Page for Native Informant
  30. ^ GM Recordings Entry for As It Was, Is, and Will Be, retrieved 2011-04-09
  31. ^ "Works - Mohammed Fairouz". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  32. ^ Huffington Post Article on The Named Angels
  33. ^ Del Sol Quartet Page for The Named Angels
  34. ^ "Rachel Barton Pine- Tour (2011)". Retrieved 22 July 2018.

External linksEdit