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KU Wind Ensemble students to reprise Carnegie Hall world premiere of “In the Shadow of No Towers” at the Lied Center on April 2nd

Monday, March 4, 2013

LAWRENCE, KS- After their world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s In the Shadow of No Towers in late March at Carnegie Hall, the KU Wind Ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, director of bands, will perform the same work for a regional audience on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 7:30pm, at the Lied Center of Kansas in Lawrence.

The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble will make the trip of a lifetime later this month when the group performs for the first time at the renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. The KU Wind Ensemble will debut the work commissioned for the ensemble by New York-based composer Fairouz. Additionally, the group will record the piece before they leave for New York, to be released on the Naxos music label in November 2013.

Composer Mohammed Fairouz was first contacted by KU alumnus and School of Music supporter James Zakoura (of Reach Out Kansas, Inc. and Smithyman & Zakoura, Chartered) to create a piece specifically for the KU Wind Ensemble. Fairouz composed his work as an examination of living in the post 9/11 world. In the Shadow of No Towers, Fairouz’s first piece written for wind ensemble, is a symphony about the events of 9/11, the days and years that have followed, and how the aftermath has shaped people in today’s political climate. The composition is loosely based on panels created for a graphic novel of the same title by New York-based graphic novelist Art Spiegelman.

“Commissioning and performing this piece is really important for the KU School of Music,” said Popiel. “For me, as both conductor of the group and teacher of these students, I look at this as a really big opportunity for them to grow enormously and then to keep the momentum going from this point. What we’re able to achieve this semester with this program is another starting point for us. Not a pinnacle achievement, but a point in time from which we’ll move forward and upward.”

The performance will open with Philip Glass’ “Concerto for Two Timpanists and Orchestra,” featuring Ji Hye Jung, assistant professor of percussion at KU, and Gwendolyn Burgett, associate professor of percussion at the Michigan State University College of Music.

Tickets to the Lied Center performance are available at no cost, thanks to the generosity of Reach Out Kansas, Inc., The Law Offices of Smithyman & Zakoura – Overland Park, Kansas, and the Zakoura Family Foundation.  Contact the Lied Center Box Office at 785-864-2787 for more information.

For more information, contact the KU School of Music at 785-864-3436 or visit http://ku.edu/carnegiehall.

The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble enjoys a long history of excellence and musical leadership in the state of Kansas, across the nation, and around the world. The ensemble has performed at every major wind band and music education convention in the country, as well as with musicians such as Aaron Copland, Vincent Persichetti, Percy Grainger, Karel Husa, Michael Colgrass and Frank Ticheli.  The KU Wind Ensemble is at the forefront of the Naxos Wind Band Classics series, having recorded four CDs on the Naxos label: Redline Tango, Wild Nights!, Derivations and Landscapes. The ensemble is committed to contemporary music and regularly commissions, premieres and records new works. The group is also dedicated to the preservation of major works from the standard repertoire. Paul W. Popiel was appointed Director of Bands and conductor of the Wind Ensemble in 2010.

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,” his distinctive musical language melds Middle-Eastern modes and Western structures to a 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 solo and chamber music attains an “intoxicating intimacy,” according to New York’s WQXR.

A truly cosmopolitan voice, Fairouz had a transatlantic upbringing. By his early teens, the Arab-American composer had traveled across five continents, immersing himself in the musical life of his surroundings. Prominent advocates of his instrumental music include the Borromeo and Lydian String Quartets, Imani Winds, the Knights Chamber Orchestra, Metropolis Ensemble, violinists Rachel Barton Pine and James Buswell, clarinetist David Krakauer, and conductors Gunther Schuller, Fawzi  Haimor and Yoon Jae Lee.

He has been recognized as an “expert in vocal writing” by the New Yorker magazineand as a “post-millennial Schubert” by Gramophone Magazine. Among the eminent singers that have promoted his wealth of vocal music are Kate Lindsey, Sasha Cooke, Lucy Shelton, D’Anna Fortunato, David Kravitz and Randall Scarlata.

Commissions have come from the Borromeo Quartet, Imani Winds, New York Festival of Song, Da Capo Chamber Players, New Juilliard Ensemble, Cantus Vocal Ensemble, Cygnus Ensemble, Counter)induction, Alea III, Musicians for Harmony, and many others. Recordings of his music are available on the Naxos, Bridge, Dorian Sono Luminus, Cedille, Albany, GM/Living Archive and GPR labels.

Mohammed Fairouz is the subject of a documentary by BBC World Service TV, has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC/PRI’s The World, and has been profiled in Symphony, Strings, New Music Box, and the Houston Chronicle, among others.

His principal teachers in composition have included György Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, and Richard Danielpour, with studies at the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory. His works are published by Peermusic Classical. He lives in New York City. Photo of Mr. Fairouz by Samantha West.

Paul W. Popiel is the Director of Bands at the University of Kansas. Popiel is only the seventh person to hold this position in the band's storied 125-year history. He conducts the KU Wind Ensemble, directs the graduate program in wind conducting and guides all aspects of the university band program. His previous appointments include the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and Oklahoma State University. He also enjoyed six years teaching in the public schools of Texas and Michigan.
Popiel has lectured and performed throughout North America, Europe, Singapore and Japan. He has produced several CDs for the Wind Band Classics series on the Naxos label, leading the KU Wind Ensemble on the latest Naxos project, Landscapes, featuring the music of Michael Torke, Aaron Copland and Frank Ticheli, which was recently released.

A proponent of distinctive new music, Popiel has commissioned and premiered numerous new works for wind ensemble and chamber winds, including works by composers Michael Torke, Mohammed Fairouz, Steven Bryant, David Dzubay, Kevin Walczyk, Kevin Wilt, Tamar Diesendruck and Joni Greene.

Popiel holds degrees from Truman State University, the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University. A recipient of a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship, he also earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Twentieth-Century Music at the University of Bristol, England. Popiel was the 2003 Frank L. Battisti Conducting Fellow, serving as the Resident Conductor of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

For more information, contact the KU School of Music at 785-864-3436. music.ku.edu.

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KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
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