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Karim Al-Zand

Houston, TX      

The music of Canadian-American composer Karim Al-Zand (b.1970) has been called “strong and startlingly lovely” (Boston Globe). His compositions are wide-ranging, from settings of classical Arabic poetry to scores for dance and pieces for young audiences. His works explore connections between music and other arts, and draw inspiration from diverse sources such as 19th century graphic art, fables of the world, folksong and jazz. The themes of some of his pieces speak to his Middle Eastern heritage as well. Al-Zand’s music has enjoyed success in the US, Canada and abroad and he is the recipient of several national awards, including the Sackler Composition Prize, the ArtSong Prize, the Louisville Orchestra Competition Prize and the “Arts and Letters Award in Music” from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He holds degrees from Harvard and McGill Universities and is currently on the faculty of the Shepherd School of Music (Rice University) in Houston. Al-Zand is also a founding member of Musiqa, Houston’s premier contemporary music group, which presents concerts featuring new and classic repertoire of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Cinderella [Aschenputel]

A score for the silent silhouette film from 1922 by Lotte Reiniger, premiered by Musiqa (www.musiqahouston.org) and commissioned by the Houston Cinema Arts Society with grant assistance from New Music USA. Scored for flute, clarinet, cornet, trombone, percussion and string quartet. German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger (1899––1981) pioneered a distinctive “silhouette” technique: an animation method using backlighting, stop-motion filming, and elaborate hand-cut paper figures, which predates Disney’s first animated films by more than 10 years.

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Lamentation on The Disasters of War

A string sextet after illustrations of war. Francisco de Goya produced the series of 82 etchings known as Los Desastres de la Guerra [The Disasters of War] during the period from 1812 to 1820, as a reaction to the events which followed Napoleon’s 1808 invasion of Spain. Many aspects of that 19th century conflict offer a striking parallel our own ill-fated incursion into Iraq. The work is both a response to the horrific conflict Goya witnessed in the Peninsular War and a commentary on the ravages of war in general.

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Lamentation on The Disasters of War

Lamentation on The Disasters Of War is an elegy for string sextet inspired by Goya’s “Los Desastres de la Guerra” and their modern day significance during the time of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. It uses some 30 of Goya’s etchings, which can be projected behind the ensemble before the performance. The piece reacts to the horrors of war, laments its civilian victims, and makes a plea for peace in our time. It was premiered and recorded by the Enso String Quartet with violist Katherine Lewis and cellist Valdine Ritchie.