Fairouz’s Three Fragments of Ibn Khafajah – to be presented on Thursday — are songs with gay love poem texts written by the renowned 11th century Andalusian poet.
Looking over these verses, it is almost impossible not to imagine them being set to song.
This is the central text of Fairouz’s cycle:
We saw him in the likeness of the image of Joseph
We saw him in the likeness of the majesty of Solomon
His cloak enshrouded him as a page of temptation
Of which we read his face as it’s addressing line
His love is my religion and his dwelling my temple
Seeing him is my pilgrammage and remembering him my scripture
Fairouz took up composing Three Fragments of Ibn Khafajah just after completion of his opera Sumeida’s Song, which is to premiere in New York in January, 2013.
Already recorded, the opera is a powerful, grim drama; Fairouz describes composing Ibn Khafajah’s love poems as a welcome contrast.
I spoke with him over the telephone.
“These are really poignant love poems about a man’s passion for another man, yet, they express love in a universal sense; I am sure that anybody who has ever been in love, whether heterosexual or gay, can feel their way into the texts.”
The songs originally were a commission from Cygnus Ensemble; flute, violin, cello, and guitar perform with the singer.
Fairouz says: “The plucking sounds, and especially the sound of the guitar, evoke Andalusia, and serenading one’s love.”
Also on the Thursday evening program, Fairouz’s String Quartet, The Named Angels.
The composer’s inspiration for this composition was found in four angels common to the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions. The four angels in question are Mikhail, Azrael, Jibreel and Israfel.
“I undertook this work as somebody not really religious, and yet intrigued that there is a certain universality in the way these three traditions face death. With all of the insane things that we see going on, I try to create music that will unite people, not cause them to perpetuate hostilities.”
The Named Angels received its premiere performance September 30 in Kansas City at the Carlsen Center. Fairouz was inspired by the facility and the audience.
“Kansas City is now in the middle of a remarkable cultural revival,” he says. “The people there who are funding the arts out of passion really deserve a lot of credit for what they are doing; they get no state support. And the warm audience reaction to my music was extraordinarily meaningful to me.”
Also on the Thursday program, Fairouz’s setting of Auden’s Refugee Blues, impressive and moving, as I reported in my review of its premiere last season.
Rounding out the offerings: Fairouz’s Lamentation and Satire and Chorale Fantasy.
Between the unusual venue of the cathedral, and the constantly evolving talents of the composer, this is sure to be a very special evening.
Image courtesy of Issue Project Room
New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.