Arab-American Composer’s Symphony Reflects on 9/11

| November 13, 2013 3:41 PMvideo

Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz‘ most recent symphony, In the Shadow of No Towers, is based on comic artist Art Spiegelman‘s 9/11 memoir of the same name. Written for the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, it premiered at Carnegie Hall earlier this year.

At only 28 years old, Mohammed Fairouz has written four symphonies and an opera, among hundreds of other works. Described as “an absolute meteoric rising star in the classical music world,”  he says he wrote his first completed piece of music at the age of seven.

As an Arab-American New Yorker, much of Fairouz’ work carries global themes. His most recent symphony, In the Shadow of No Towers, addresses 9/11 and its aftermath.

“Works of art have been written to memorialize the victims, this is not the first piece written about the tragedy,” said Fairouz. ” But I think it’s the first piece that really addresses our current reality and how our world has changed.”

In the symphony’s first movement, the music builds up to “a huge explosion of sound,” symbolizing the crash into the towers. The third movement, about the post-9/11 polarization of America, divides up the musicians into two distinct groups representing red states and blue states.

Fairouz believes that music can be “a real catalyst for change” and hopes to achieve some level of peace between people with his work.

“It’s so much more difficult to dehumanize someone when you can appreciate their art and when you can appreciate their humanity and when you can appreciate their culture. When you feel for what someone is saying in a work of art or a piece of music and it emotionally resonates with you, it’s impossible to dehumanize them and to make an object of war out of them. So this is where our role is vital. The most potent instrument against war is making people feel empathy for one another, and there’s no art form that can do that more precisely than music.”

In the Shadow of No Towers will be released on CD on November 19.

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