SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2016, 7:30PM
Featuring the NYC Premieres of Mohammed Fairouz’s Pax Universalis & Violin Concerto, "Al-Andalus"
Sponsored by the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department at New York University
$25-35-50 General Admission
$12 Students and Seniors
To purchase your tickets, click here.
Maurice Ravel: Bolero (1928)
Maurice Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole (1907)
Mohammed Fairouz: Violin Concerto, "Al-Andalus" (2013) - NYC PREMIERE
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Mohammed Fairouz, conductor
Laura Jackson, conductor
Mimesis Ensemble Orchestra
ABOUT THE CONCERT:
Notes by Katie Reimer
“There are closer ties between apparently warring civilizations than most of us would like to believe.”
-Edward W. Said
Spain provides an ideal setting to tell the story of our interconnected human history. Embedded in the culture, language, dance and music of Spain are stunning intersections between people of many different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The enchanted story of Spain resists any claim of a battle between “us” and “them” which is heard with alarming regularity in our world today. The abundant diversity of Spain’s culture is both inspiring and creative, and is a story worth telling.
The Mimesis Ensemble presents “Al-Andalus” to tell the story of Spain from two musical perspectives. The first is through the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), a French composer born to a Spanish mother and Swiss father. The second is through the music of Mohammed Fairouz (b. 1985), an American composer of Arab descent. These two glimpses into Spain’s richly diverse culture celebrate and affirm the brilliant interconnectedness of many lives, and provide a vision for today’s disjointed world.
The concert opens with one of Ravel’s later works, Bolero, composed in 1928 when the composer was 53 years old. Originally a ballet composed for the Russian dancer and actress Ida Rubinstein, Bolero became Ravel’s most famous piece, and is usually performed as a concert piece today. Bolero is based on only one theme, which Ravel repeats over and over again in a series of variations that gradually crescendo to a grand explosion of exuberance. The piece is based on the 18th century Spanish dance by the same name.
The second piece on the program is one of Ravel’s earliest works, Rapsodie espagnole, which would become the first of many pieces reflecting his Spanish heritage. Composed in 1907-8 when the composer was 32 years old, Rapsodie espagnole centers around two quintessential Spanish dances, the malagueñaand the habanera. The malagueña was a flamenco dance from southern Spain, and the habanera was a dance imported into Spain from Havana, Cuba, where it was flourishing in the 19th century. The habanera was significant for being the first written music based on African rhythms. It was also imported to the United States, through New Orleans, where it would impact music by African Americans in the 20th century.
Following an intermission, the second half of the concert will feature two pieces by Mohammed Fairouz, which illuminate Al-Andalus, or Islamic Spain, from 711-1492. This era in Spain’s history was considered to be an Arab Golden Ages, and was comprised of people from the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. People from all three religious groups contributed to the intellectual prosperity of this time period, leading to important developments in science, medicine, technology, medicine, philosophy, and religion. The Quran’s emphasis on the value of education and knowledge played a vital role during this era. Many classic works of antiquity were translated into Arabic and Persian, and the government heavily patronized scholars and centers of learning throughout the region.
The first piece on the second half will be the New York premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s Pax Universalis. Dedicated to the children who have fallen victim to global conflict, Fairouz adds a statement by His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal to the dedication: “A most worthy subject for this dedication and sentiment are the children who are dying as a result of the wars raging in all parts of the world. If only peace would come, these children would be alive.” In Fairouz’s program note, he writes:
“Pax Universalis is my most consistently joyful work to date and stands as an ode to this vision of peace and the hope that we will one day achieve it. The extroverted Andalusian musical elements of the work are a reference to the lost Islamic Golden Age of Al-Andalus, the closest we have come to reaching ideal peace on Earth in the Arab and Islamic imaginations. Prince Turki captured the immense sense of joyful meaning of this age of harmony when he said aloud what many Muslims worldwide have daily on their minds: “The loss of Andalucia is like losing part of my body.”
The concert will close with another New York premiere, of Mohammed Fairouz’s Violin Concerto “Al-Andalus.” Each movement illustrates musically elements of life in Arab Spain. The first movement is the story of Ibn Firnas, a poet, philosopher and inventor who became the first person to attempt flight, a thousand years before the Wright Brothers. The second movement portrays the work of Ibn-Hazm, an Andalusian polymath who wrote on law, history, ethics, comparative religion, and theology. The movement illustrates a beautiful treatise on love he wrote in 1082. The third movement paints a musical picture of a homoerotic poem by Ibn-Kharuf from 1205 that describes a virtuosic young dancer.
Join the Mimesis Ensemble for this joyfully optimistic concert, which celebrates the creative intersections of peoples and cultures found in Spain!