FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 24, 2024
WASHINGTON, DC – In collaboration with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and Pianos for Peace, Syrian-American Composer Malek Jandali presents the World Premiere of Jandali’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra with Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic as soloist, on Saturday, March 9, 2024 at 8:00 p.m. at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. The program calls on the importance of justice and peace, and opens with selections from Jandali’s Symphony No. 6 “The Desert Rose”, and includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” Jandali and McGill will have a pre-concert talk at 7:00 pm to discuss the concerto with music director Christopher Zimmerman.
Jandali’s clarinet concerto is dedicated “in memory of all victims of injustice everywhere” in a call for solidarity and peace through heartfelt melodies. It passionately calls for peace and human rights for all, particularly for children. As in his other works, Jandali infuses the concerto with folk melodies and musical forms in his musical journey that echoes UNESCO’s call to preserve his rich Arabic cultural heritage. The March 9th concerto marks the first live performance of the clarinet concerto and falls within the thirteenth anniversary of the Syrian Revolution for our universal human values of dignity, freedom and peace.
The composer is convinced that “Music unites people. It has the magical power to transform and transcend and change the narrative. What I am trying to do is preserve my culture through music by integrating ancient melodies that represent my people and my rich heritage in a symphony for peace.”
“Malek Jandali is a masterful, prolific composer, who is becoming a sensation not only in this country but the world over,” said Chris Zimmerman FSO Music Director and Conductor. “His music, often inspired by the cruel realities of social upheaval in the country of his birth, is unfailingly touching, direct and emotional. In some respects, Beethoven’s music may seem like the other end of the spectrum, but his Symphony No. 3 was also inspired by the cruel social upheavals of his time. Originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, he tore up that dedication once he saw the tyrannical direction in which that hugely influential European leader was heading. By knowing no boundaries, music of all styles unites.”
McGill says of the concerto, “In the midst of the pain and the violence and injustice in the world, all we are left with is the ability to pour our hearts and our souls into something more beautiful, into something more powerful, so it can communicate throughout all time and live on.”
ABOUT MALEK JANDALI
Malek Jandali is one of the most important composers of his generation in America. His works have been commissioned, performed, and recorded by leading orchestras and distinguished soloists around the world. His “deeply enigmatic” music (Gramophone) with “heart-rending melodies, lush orchestration, clever transitions and creative textures” (American Record Guide) includes eight symphonies, seven concertos, four string quartets, chamber music, and his upcoming opera, The Square. His works engage philosophical themes and integrate Arabic maqams with persuasive craft, echoing UNESCO’s call to preserve the rich cultural heritage of his homeland, Syria. Marin Alsop states, “Jandali belongs among the superb composer poets of our time—a meaningful voice of quite astonishing, almost unearthly beauty.” He has produced ten lauded albums of more than forty of his compositions. He is the first Arab musician to have arranged the oldest music notation in the world, featured on his 2008 album Echoes from Ugarit. He is composer-in- residence at Qatar Museums and Queens University of Charlotte, and is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization Pianos for Peace. Jandali is the recipient of the 2014 Global Music Humanitarian Award, and in 2015 the Carnegie Corporation of New York honored him as a Great Immigrant, a Pride of America. Malek Jandali was born in Germany and raised in Syria. He now makes his home in Manhattan and Atlanta.
ABOUT ANTHONY MCGILL
Hailed for his “trademark brilliance, penetrating sound and rich character” (New York Times), clarinetist
Anthony McGill enjoys a dynamic international solo and chamber music career and is principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic — the first African-American principal player in the organization’s history. He is the recipient of the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize, one of classical music’s most significant awards. McGill appears as a soloist with top orchestras, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. He performed alongside Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gabriela Montero at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece by John Williams. As a chamber musician, McGill is a collaborator of the Brentano, Daedalus, Guarneri, JACK, Miró, Pacifica, Shanghai, Takács, and Tokyo Quartets, and performs with leading artists including Emanuel Ax, Inon Barnatan, Gloria Chien, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang. He serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School and is the Artistic Director for Juilliard’s Music Advancement Program. He holds the William R. and Hyunah Yu Brody Distinguished Chair at the Curtis Institute of Music. In 2020, McGill’s #TakeTwoKnees campaign protesting the death of George Floyd and historic racial injustice went viral. In 2023, he partnered with Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative to organize a classical music industry convening at EJI’s Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, in which leaders and artists in classical music examined America’s history of racial inequality and how this legacy continues to impact their work.
ABOUT FAIRFAX SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Founded in 1957, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra has played a central role in Fairfax County’s cultural and
civic life for more than 65 years. Under the direction of conductor and Music Director Christopher Zimmerman, the FSO has earned recognition as one of the nation’s premier regional orchestras. Praised by The Washington Post as “a crown jewel of the cultural landscape,” the FSO enriches the lives of more than 18,000 people each season through a series of masterworks and pops concerts, an annual production of the Nutcracker with the Fairfax Ballet, and innovative, education programs serving Title 1 Schools throughout our community. With a roster comprising nearly 80 professional musicians, one third of whom have served, or currently serve, in the nation’s prestigious United States military bands, the FSO showcases exceptional talent. Under the leadership of Executive Director Jonathan Kerr, the FSO has deepened its dedication to fostering community collaborations, while serving as an invaluable cultural resource and artistic ambassador for our region.
ABOUT THE SYRIAN EMERGENCY TASK FORCE
The Syrian Emergency Task Force is a Syrian-American 501(c)(3) headquartered in Washington, D.C. SETF works tirelessly to bring an end to the killing in Syria through humanitarian initiatives, advocacy and the pursuit of justice and accountability for war crimes. Its humanitarian programs include the “Wisdom House Kindergarten” for orphans, a women’s vocational center “Tomorrow’s Dawn Women Center”, a rehabilitation center “House of Healing”, a “Key Witness Fund”, and a no-cost “Hope Pharmacy” in Rukban. Today, SETF stands as the most notable American organization working on Syria, as evidenced by the impact it has made both on the ground in Syria and the U.S. The SETF team is made up of passionate activists from around the world who work together towards a free, safe, and democratic Syria. SETF serves as a resource for education by bringing the voices of the Syrian people to the international stage. From testimonies at the UN Security Council to local grassroots community fundraisers, the team brings together like-minded people who are determined to fight for a safe, and free Syria away from the vicious dictatorship.