The 26-year-old Arab-American has quite a year ahead of him, with concerts, operas, song cycles and more planned for some of the city’s largest spaces and hippest alternative venues, from Carnegie Hall to the Issue Project Room in Boerum Hill.
What neighborhood do you live in? How do you like it?
I’m a Chelsea boy, and I love it!
How long have you been in NY?
I’ve been in NYC for most of my life, although I spent a lot of my childhood in London and otherwise traveling.
What’s the best venue where your work has been performed in NY?
I love Carnegie Hall for its brilliant acoustics and history. I’ve enjoyed performances of my work there a lot. I also love the vibe of alternative venues, or even creating new venues in which to present music that can be an entry point for people who ordinarily wouldn’t think of going to a concert hall to hear music.
Where would you love to see it that you haven’t yet?
I love the theater, and I’ve written an opera, so a great Broadway theater—like the Gershwin—or even the Metropolitan Opera House one day would be amazing.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be? Dead?
There are too many people in too many different fields, but to randomly focus it, I’ll pick a couple of pianists. Jeremy Denk’s playing makes me want to create something for him. As far as dead people go, doing a show with Liberace would be way cool.
What’s next for you?
A few new pieces, including a song cycle for Kate Lindsey and the Metropolis Ensemble [Oct 23-24 at (le) poisson rouge], a work for the totally inspirational New York Festival of Song [Dec 4 at Merkin Concert Hall]. Also a staging of my first opera, Sumeida’s Song, at the first ever Protototype Festival [Jan 9-15 at HERE Arts Center], and the premiere of my fourth symphony, In the Shadow of No Towers, at Carnegie Hall in March. Then there’s a new quartet for the Borromeo Quartet called The Named Angels based on angels in Islamic and Arabic Mythology [Oct 11 at Issue Project Room], and a chamber orchestra piece for the New Juilliard Ensemble [Apr 12 at Alice Tully], and another song cycle called Pierrot Lunaire for the Da Capo Chamber Players [Jun 6 at Merkin Concert Hall].
Also, I have a couple of new discs coming out: my opera on Bridge Records and a portrait disc featuring Rachel Barton Pine, David Krakauer, the Borromeo Quartet and the Imani Winds on Naxos American Classics.