Kareem Roustom‘s Aleppo Songs continues to receive world-wide attention, boasting three premieres this year alone. Originally scored for solo piano, the piece celebrates what Aleppo was known for, before the uprising of 2011 led the city to war. The composer writes, “To speak today of the richness of the arts and culture in Aleppo is to speak in the past tense. After the non-violent uprising of 2011 slid into a devastating war, nothing in Aleppo remains the same. Aleppo was a city known for many things… its wonderful cuisine, its seven miles of covered markets, the warmth of its people… and Aleppo was also known for its music. In writing this orchestral arrangement of Aleppo Songs, I hope to share some of Aleppo’s musical treasures in a new setting; one that hopefully complements the richness of this tradition but also avoids ‘orientalist’ clichés.”
October 3: Berlin
Aleppo Songs for orchestra will be performed by the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra and Berlin-area musicians at the Konzertsaal der Universität der Künste.
The Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra (SEPO) is the first symphony orchestra of Syrian professional and academic musicians living in European Union countries. The orchestra began in Germany in September 2015 as an effort to unify Syrian musicians together despite ideological differences. SEPO also began in an effort to save Syrian music from destruction. To unite, the ensemble banded together to make beautiful music. SEPO performs the symphonic works by the Syrian composers in addition to traditional classical music.
October 9: Portland, OR
The ensemble Fear No Music will give the West Coast premiere of Aleppo Songs for piano solo. Pianist Monica Ohuchi performed the piece in a concert celebrating recent music of artists working in the Middle East as well as the diaspora of immigrants active today in the United States.
A sample of the arrangement for piano:
October 12: Brott Music Festival, Canada
The National Academy Orchestra String Concert gave the Canadian premiere at the renowned Brott Music Festival as part of Brott’s Multicultural Festival, celebrating the “different cultures and people that make this City such a wonderful place to live.”
Now in its 30th season, the Brott Music Festival is the largest non-profit orchestral music festival in Canada, and the only festival with a full-time, professional orchestra-in-residence. The festival is renowned for its extremely high artistic standard, world class soloists, its exuberant young orchestra and its eclectic mix of orchestral, chamber, jazz, pops, and education concerts at various venues across Southern Ontario.