Recording of Mohammed Fairouz's 'In The Shadow Of No Towers' Out Now
Led by Artistic Director Paul Popiel, the University of Kansas Wind performs the 35-minute piece, along with the first recording of Philip Glass's Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra (arranged for wind ensemble by Mark Lortz), with soloists Gwendolyn Burgett and Ji Hye Jung. In the Shadow of No Towers is the second Naxos disc this year to feature Fairouz's music, following Native Informant, a selection of chamber works released in March to considerable acclaim.
Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman's book of the same name, In the Shadow of No Towers was catalyzed by discussions between Fairouz and Spiegelman. The 40-minute, four-movement work begins with the disasters of September 11, 2001, and explores the unfolding of a post-9/11 reality. Balancing serious reflection and satire, the four-movement piece plays on the martial associations of the wind band genre while slyly subverting them with sardonic wit and unmistakable emotional impact.
Comments Spiegelman, best known for his Holocaust memoir Maus, "I'm moved by the scary, somber and seriously silly symphony he has made... I'm honored that the composer found an echo in my work that allowed him to strike a responsive chord and express his own complex responses to post 9-11 America. He emerges from the rubble with a very tony piece of highbrow cartoon music."
Reviewing the work's premiere, Steve Smith of The New York Times wrote, "One of America's most esteemed concert bands, the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, came to Carnegie Hall to introduce a commissioned work with the potential to resonate well beyond the college circuit, Mohammed Fairouz's Symphony No. 4...
"The notion of an Arab-American artist addressing Sept. 11 with an ostensibly lowbrow mix of band music and comics might have seemed paradoxical, but what resulted is technically impressive, consistently imaginative and in its finest stretches deeply moving... The ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, performed with polish, assurance, and copious spirit, eliciting a rousing ovation for its members and for Mr. Fairouz."
In the Shadow of No Towers has already been taken up by several of the nation's leading wind bands, including the Ohio State University Wind Symphony, the University of Texas Wind Ensemble, and the MTSU Wind Ensemble (Tennessee). The piece has also become part of the curriculum for "Catastrophe and Memory," a philosophy course taught by Prof. James Schmidt at Boston University. In the Shadow of No Towers was commissioned by Reach Out, Kansas, Inc., an organization founded with the aim of generating a common appreciation for music, and for different cultures' identities and practices.
Mohammed Fairouz forms a focal point of "Listening to the Other: Mideast Musical Dialogues," December 2 - 8 at UCLA, a groundbreaking week of public performances, master classes and panel discussions. With diverse co-sponsorship and hundreds of UCLA students participating, the week will highlight the important role music can play in promoting cross-cultural understanding and transnational reconciliation. "Listening to the Other" culminates in a major concert at Royce Hall on Sunday evening, December 8, with the West Coast premieres of Fairouz's Tahrir for clarinet and orchestra (with soloist David Krakauer), and Symphony No. 3, "Poems and Prayers," for mezzo-soprano, chorus, and orchestra. Krakauer and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke perform Tahwidah at the Hammer Museum in LA on December 4, and two of Fairouz's chamber and vocal works are heard alongside those of Israeli composers at Schoenberg Hall on December 5. For more information, visit www.listeningtotheother.org.