Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Concert, Apr. 24, 2015
By Jessica Redden
On behalf of the Symphonic Choir
Composer Mohammed Fairouz’s first Oratorio, Zabur will receive its world premiere performance by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 24, 2015, at the Hilbert Circle Theatre, 45 Monument Circle, in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.
Paired alongside the always intimate and moving Fauré’s Requiem, the large-scale Zabur takes its name from the Arabic title for the Psalms of David. The performance will also feature the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and guest soloists performing a new setting of the ancient Psalm text, re-imagined in the contemporary Middle East.
“Performing and commissioning new, bold works is at the heart of our mission, and the Symphonic Choir sees a call to engage others in our community in that experience of creating new works of music,” says Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Artistic Director Eric Stark.
“The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir regularly join together to perform great choral masterworks,” says Gary Ginstling, CEO of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
“Now, we have the rare opportunity to bring to life a new large-scale oratorio from an acclaimed young composer, a work that communicates across the religious divide using the universal language of music and draws upon the strengths of so many performing arts and faith-based organizations in Indianapolis.”
Zabur was commissioned by a consortium led by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, comprised of Jewish, Christian and Islamic congregational partners as well as public and private schools, and other arts institutions.
Scored for chorus, children’s choir, soloists and orchestra, Zabur sets several of the Arabic psalms within the context of an original libretto by acclaimed writer and actor Najla Said.
Said re-imagines King David as a poet living and writing in the upheaval of the contemporary Middle East, composing the Psalms as a way to contend with his day-to-day reality.
Described by Gramophone as “a post-millennial Schubert,” Mohammed Fairouz is an adept and accomplished writer for the voice with an opera (a second in progress), 13 song cycles, and hundreds of art songs to his credit.
For Zabur, Fairouz looked to Stravinsky’s Latin Symphony of Psalms and Bernstein’s Hebrew Chichester Psalms as models.
“I was eager to bring my own cultural dimension to the Psalms,” says Fairouz. “By bringing back the essential Arabic aspect of the Psalms as well as by setting the ancient texts in a contemporary environment, Zabur attempts to take the Psalms ‘off the shelf’ and restore their original form as raw human poetic documents.”
Tickets are on sale now and range from $20 to $56 with student tickets available for $10. Tickets are available at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Box Office, IndianapolisSymphony.org, or via phone at 317-639-4300. Ticketed patrons will have the opportunity to meet the composer at the Words on Music event beginning at 7:15 p.m.