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Press Release
Mohammed Fairouz: Follow, poetFollow, Poet:  Deutsche Grammophon debut by acclaimed American composer Mohammed Fairouz out January 27
 
Produced by David Frost, album features Ensemble LPR, conducted by Evan Rogister, and mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey 


Ensemble LPR will present Audenesque, with Kate Lindsey and Evan Rogister,  along with composer and Ensemble LPR Director David Handler’s Celtic Verses with Mary Mackenzie, Monday, February 23, at New York's (Le) Poisson Rouge 

January 28, 2015 – This week, Universal Music Classics releases Follow, Poet, American composer Mohammed Fairouz's debut on Deutsche Grammophon, and the first release in Universal Music Classics’ Return to Language series. Produced by David Frost, the album features New York's acclaimed Ensemble LPR, conducted by Evan Rogister, performing the elegiac song cycle Audenesque with mezzo- soprano Kate Lindsey, and the ballet Sadat, featuring Ensemble LPR percussionist Mike Truesdell. On February 23, Lindsey will perform Audenesque with Ensemble LPR at (Le) Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St., NYC). The concert will also include the world premiere of Ensemble LPR Director David Handler’s Celtic Verses, featuring by the group’s harpist, Kristi Shade, and mezzo-soprano Mary Mackenzie. Concert details can be found here
 
The Return to Language series was conceived by Universal Music Classics president/CEO Elizabeth Sobol, a lifelong lover of literature. “It has always been the interrelatedness of literature and music that has touched me most deeply in art," she writes – the exponential power of storytelling when you join words and music.

"There is a deep humanity and civic devotion to Mohammed’s music," she says. "For him, music isn’t an abstract art – it has a higher purpose. Musically, Mohammed’s pieces are sonically masterful but also contemporary and fresh. There are big gestures but depth, too. Ultimately, his work is beautiful – the ear loves receiving it.”
 
The musical works on this album, Audenesque and Sadat, each exalt the transformative power of language through different means, one poetic, one oratorical. In Audenesque, Fairouz sets verse by the great 20th-century English poet W.H. Auden and late Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney; with Sadat, the composer evokes in an instrumental work the stirring life-story of slain Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Woven among the musical recordings on the album are readings of the Auden and Heaney by Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon and fragments of spoken word by John F. Kennedy from one of his less-well-known speeches, including this: “When power leads man to toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concerns, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”
 
Fairouz, who is the youngest composer to have an entire album of works recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in the label’s 115 year history, writes in his manifesto-like liner note for Follow, Poet:, “My generation, at its most positive and its most negative, seems to be desperate for something to believe in. So it shouldn't be surprising that we live in an age of extremes: an age of great advances and boundless acts of humanity but also one of debilitating plague and astonishing conflict...In both our poetic and diplomatic lives, I would argue for a broad return to a love for illustrious language. Poetry can give us a means to reach beyond the daily, confused present and touch something timeless and eternal. At a time when the search for meaning has never been more critical, it seems to me that a return to language, to a respect in the way we treat each other with and through language is the first step in solving some of the problems of human communication and understanding that are manifest in conflicts from the Middle East to the halls of the U.S. Congress to the unchecked vitriol sounding on ‘social’ media. In times like ours, there is an imperative to use and value language more carefully and thoughtfully – a need to listen to and admire thoughtful language as part of our day-to-day lives. Our highest forms of linguistic expression are a defining element – and reflection of – our humanity.
 
The four-part Audenesque – which in ways echoes orchestral songs by the likes of Mahler, Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler and Marc Blitzstein – takes its inspiration from the works of W. H. Auden. The first three songs are settings of Auden’s In Memory of W. B. Yeats, an elegy mourning the loss of a poetic giant at a time of global crisis. Some of the final lines inspired the album’s title (“Follow, poet, follow right / To the bottom of the night / With your unconstraining voice / Still persuade us to rejoice”). Auden’s poem inspired many subsequent works, including Joseph Brodsky’s Verses on the Death of T. S. Eliot. When Brodsky passed away on January 28, 1996 the anniversary of Yeats’s death, Seamus Heaney declared the day “double-crossed and death-marched” and penned “Audenesque”. The final song in Fairouz’s cycle is a setting of Heaney’s poem, a tribute to the 20th-century lineage of English-language poets. The work is “a conversation” through time and art among Yeats, Eliot, Auden, Brodsky and Heaney. The album also includes Paul Muldoon reading his friend Heaney’s “Audenesque,” as well as Auden’s “To the Memory of W.B. Yeats
 
Based on the life of Egypt’s late president Anwar Sadat, Fairouz’s Sadat is a ballet in five scenes—the 1952 Egyptian revolution, the first encounter with Sadat’s wife-to-be Jehan, the death of Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Sadat’s arrival in Jerusalem, and finally Sadat’s assassination. Each of these scenes gives a snapshot of Sadat’s life, examining the relationship between this controversial figure and the tumultuous world he inhabited. Mr. Fairouz notes, “The moral in the life-story of this complex leader is as relevant now as it was at the start of his journey in 1952.” On May 27 at Carnegie’s Weill Hall, the Mimesis Ensemble will give the world premiere performance of Sadat.
 
The release of Follow, Poet as the inaugural album in the Return to Language series will be heralded by events featuring musical performances and poetry readings, with symposia, podcasts and UMC collaborations with artists and broadcasters. About this initial album and the series, Sobol says: “There are many different ways of enjoying music, of course, but I do hope that Follow, Poet – and each album that follows later in the series – sparks a deeper kind of listening experience for those who encounter it and, ultimately, a deeper sort of emotional response, because that’s the whole point of art: to be inspired and moved, deeply.”
 
About Mohammed Fairouz
Mohammed Fairouz, born in 1985, is one of the most frequently performed, commissioned, and recorded composers of his generation. Hailed by The New York Times as “an important new artistic voice” and by BBC World News as “one of the most talented composers of his generation,” Fairouz integrates Middle-Eastern modes into Western structures, to deeply expressive effect. His large-scale works, including four symphonies and an opera, engage major geopolitical and philosophical themes with persuasive craft and a marked seriousness of purpose. His most recent symphony, In the Shadow of No Towers for wind ensemble, was described by Steve Smith of The New York Times as “technically impressive, consistently imaginative and in its finest stretches deeply moving.” His solo and chamber music attains an “intoxicating intimacy,” according to New York’s WQXR. Fairouz has been described by Gramophone as “a post-millennial Schubert” and Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called his debut opera Sumeida’s Song “intensely dramatic [with] a searing score.” His principal teachers in composition have included György Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, and Richard Danielpour, with studies at the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory. Fairouz’s works are published by Peermusic Classical. He lives in New York City. To learn more about Mohammed Fairouz, visit http://mohammedfairouz.com.

About David Handler and Ensemble LPR
Ensemble LPR
, officially formed in 2012 by composer and co-founder of (Le) Poisson Rouge David Handler, channels its namesake venue’s curatorial daring. The New York Times’ description of the place as “artistically planned eclecticism,” and “[a] forward-thinking [venture] that seeks to showcase disparate musical styles under one roof,” applies equally to the band. Ensemble LPR performs works by the finest living composers as well as compelling interpretations of the standard repertoire, collaborating with distinguished artists from non-classical as well as classical backgrounds: Timo Andres, San Fermin, Daniel Hope, Taka Kigawa, Jennifer Koh, John Lurie, Ursula Oppens, Max Richter, André de Ridder, Christopher Rountree, and Fred Sherry, to name a few. Highlights include a collaboration with Moritz von Oswald at 2010’s Unsound Festival; a performance, with violinist Daniel Hope, of Max Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, in 2012; a tribute to the music of Elliott Carter, with Fred Sherry, Ursula Oppens and others, in 2013; a tribute to the music of Arthur Russell; the U.S. Premiere of Lachrimae, by Bryce Dessner (of the National), in spring 2014; and, in September 2014, a performance at LPR of John Lurie’s string quartets, as part of the Strange and Beautiful: The Music and Art of John Lurie festival.  

About Kate Lindsey
Kate Lindsey has performed many of the great lyric mezzo-soprano roles to critical acclaim in the world's most prestigious opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Bayerische Staatsoper, and the Wiener Staatsoper. She also starred in the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcast of its new production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann and was featured in its broadcasts of La Clemenza di Tito and The Magic Flute. Also an accomplished concert singer, Ms. Lindsey has appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Met Chamber Orchestra (in Carnegie Hall), and in Europe with the Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble, the Concertgebouworkest, and Cercle de l’Harmonie. She has also appeared at the Tanglewood and Mostly Mozart festivals. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Ms. Lindsey holds a Bachelor of Music Degree with Distinction from Indiana University and is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

About Evan Rogister
Evan Rogister made his professional conducting debut at the Houston Grand Opera in 2008, and has since led performances at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and the Göteborg Opera. From 2009-2011 he served as Kapellmeister at the Deutsche Oper Berlin under its music director Donald Runnicles. Also recognized as an accomplished conductor of symphonic repertoire, Mr. Rogister has led the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Alabama Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and the Bochum Symphoniker. A dual citizen of United States and Germany, Mr. Rogister holds degrees from Indiana University, where he first enrolled as a trombone major, and The Juilliard School, where he trained in opera and conducting.
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To request review or airplay copies of Follow, Poet or to request an interview with Mohammed Fairouz, please Contact:
Rebecca Davis
Rebecca Davis Public Relations
Rebecca@rebeccadavispr.com
347-432-8832
 
 
 
 
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