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EXCLUSIVE: Gity Razaz & Saad Haddad on ACO Undergound's 'Eastern Wind' Concert

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Mar 28, 2016 01:37 PM EDT

This week, the American Composers Orchestra premieres its Middle Eastern and Indian inspired Orchestra Underground: Eastern Wind program at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Led by music director George Manahan, on Friday, April 1, New York's iconic classical venue will allow modern contemporaries like Saad Haddad, Gity Razaz, Mehmet Ali Sanlikol and more to bring Eastern-inspired compositions to an avant-garde classical sphere.

The sounds of the ACO's latest feature aren't uncommon with other modern composers like Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Philip Glass, but their approach to this Eastern-inspired program touches upon a deep sense of musical understanding. For Saad Haddad, the night marks a world premiere for his own Manarah, which means "beacon" in Arabic.

In Manarah, Haddad takes advantage of one pivotal tool to help bring his composition from a strictly Eastern classical platform to a more Western modern perspective: electronics. On the bill, he intends to feature two digitally processed antiphonal trumpets, positioned on both ends of the stage, juxtaposed with an orchestra that borrows from Arab musical sensibilities. Manarah is an exploration, and with these added electric elements it ushers in a new understanding of how we define "world" music.

Gity Razaz, too, follows in a similar fashion. Her composition to be featured is the Salvador Dali-inspired piece of the same name entitled The Metamorphosis of Narcissus. While not a world premiere, Razaz's dynamic concerto delves into the concept of electronics as well, utilizing foundational sounds like pads and synthesizers to fill out the spaces. With an orchestra in the foreground, having effects (and possibly a Vox amp) give way to new insights in today's classical spectrum--skewing what may be classified as institutional traditions.

Along with other fellow American Composers Orchestra artists like Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, Reena Esmail and Matthias Pintscher, the evening offers up a unique bill of composers that are pioneering not just Arab-inspired classical but avant-garde modern compositions too. This synergy is of the growing echelon of modern musicians in the classical world who are expanding our expectations of the genre.

For Classicalite, we were lucky enough to bring in Saad Haddad and Gity Razaz for a conversation on what it means to infuse these new age sounds into age-old traditions, what inspires them to create on different levels and just how Zankel Hall will react to their performances.

In an exlucive feature, we present our first installation of Classicalite's podcast series (featured with a video, too, below) with Ms. Razaz and Mr. Haddad from our offices in downtown Manhattan.

Don't miss the performance on April 1 at 7:30. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office.

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TagsAmerican Composers Orchestra, Orchestra Underground: Eastern Wind, Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hall, Gity Razaz, Saad Haddad, EXCLUSIVE