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Beirut Is A House Of Many Rooms

A work for video, violin and oud, exploring the music and culture of Beirut, Lebanon, through the eyes and ears of oud player Hadi Eldebek.

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Beirut club scene

Posted on November 6, 2015 by The Block

Another still from our footage.

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Beirut Graffiti

Posted on November 6, 2015 by The Block

Another still from our footage.

Still photos from our footage

Posted on November 6, 2015 by The Block

I’ve been posting these on Facebook, to give people a flavor of what is in store.

Premiere is the weekend, Nov. 8!

Posted on November 6, 2015 by The Block

The music is done, the video is done (being color-corrected as I type this), and the concert is happening! Violinist Tim Fain will perform the piece this Sunday, Nov. 8, 2105, at (Le) Poisson Rouge, in New York City. The Block co-commissioned the piece with Composers Concordance, who are presenting this premiere. 

Tim will be joined by pianist and composer Timo Andres performing works by Gene Pritsker, Dan Cooper, Milica Paranosic, Christopher Cerrone, and Svjetlana Bukvich. Here is a link to Le PoissonRouge, with all the details:





Posted on August 27, 2015 by The Block

For a solo violin piece, there is a lot of information to convey in this score: cues from the track, many changes in the click track, microtones, transcriptions of music on the track with notes on the coordination with the live violin. I made a Tim a version on fewer pages with much of that removed, for live performance.



Piano demo

Posted on August 27, 2015 by The Block

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The piece is now notated, and I made a passable demo with piano sounds. I am posting the demo here. The next step is Tim Fain records the piece on violin. Then that goes to Mary Harron and John C. Walsh, our video team, who will create a video to my composition out of the footage they shot in Beirut. i decided NOT to ‘tame’ the live recordings of Arabic music…I did not want to lose the rhythmic feel, and the players have such steady rhythm, it wasn’t needed. I did have hand-place each click in the click track at times…hundreds of them.

Done (kind of)

Posted on July 6, 2015 by The Block

The piece is composed, and mostly in Finale (.i.e., notated). Now I need to figure out all the markings, decide which parts will have click track, and which loops need to be fixed up so they are truly in time. I used sounds recorded by Mary and John in Beirut, including some live music, and while  that music is very very in time, some spots may need a little ‘taming’.

When all of that is done, Tim Fain will record a demo, and we will give that to John and Mary to make the video for the piece. The premiere is Nov. 8, 2015, at Le Poisson Rouge.



The Block, a concert venue and presenter,  intends to commission Randall WoolfMary Harron, and John C. Walsh to compose a new solo work for violinist Tim Fain, to be presented at The Block, in Muskegon, MI.

 The Block, a ‘black box’ performance space, is a new venue in Muskegon, MI. We envision it becoming a center of innovative music performance. When violinist Tim Fain told us he wanted to commission a new solo work for his solo recital from composer Randall Woolf, we leapt at the chance. Woolf’s ‘Shakedown’ was performed in Muskegon in 2013 by the West Michigan Symphony.

 We propose to commission Randall Woolf and filmmakers Mary Harron and John C. Walsh to create a piece for violinist Tim Fain, oud player Hadi Eldebek, electronic track and video, about the musical culture in Beirut, Lebanon.  The Block with present the piece in Muskegon, MI March 1, 2016. Tim Fain will then include it on his solo recitals over the next two years.

 Hadi Eldebek grew up in a culture and a society constantly on the verge of exploding into war, always at risk of annihilation.  Beirut, as a port city, has for centuries been both a meeting place and a battleground of traditions.  It is a land, like Istanbul, where the confluence of East and West have met and mixed in almost equal measure.  Ancient and battle scarred, Beirut is a symbol not just of conflict and tragedy – but also of exuberance and hedonism and cultural sophistication.  It is famous both for civil war and for its fabulous night clubs, its wonderful singers.

 Eldebek studied Western classical music with Woolf through a Brooklyn Philharmonic program.  They are close friends, and intend to collaborate to some degree on the music. Eldebek will create several improvisatory works, working with Woolf. Woolf will then use these recordings, manipulated in various ways, to create his piece. Eldebek will also be seen in the video, and will guide the other artists around Beirut. You can hear an improvisation on the oud by Mr. Eldebek on his profile page.

 Woolf, Harron and Walsh have created 2 such works before, commissioned by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and by violinist Jennifer Choi. These pieces are included as work samples in our application. Mr. Fain has commissioned an earlier solo piece and recorded several works by Woolf.

Project Media

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CUE POINT #1: 3:53 CUE POINT #2: 5:34 This was the first piece by our team [Woolf, Harron and Walsh] that explored another culture, in this case, a Tibetan refugee camp near Darjeeling, India. The process here was the same as the proposed piece: the filmmakers shot footage and recorded sounds, gave them to Woolf, and he wrote a piece for violin and track. The filmmakers then cut the footage to the music. Jennifer Choi, violin

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CUE POINT #1: 1:00 CUE POINT #2: 3:05 This was the second piece by our team [Woolf, Harron and Walsh] that explored another culture, in this case, Katmandu, Nepal. We filmed Sanranji master Bharat Nepali, as well as ambient sounds of the city and other video footage. As with Holding Fast, Walsh and Harron gave Woolf the audio and video, and he wrote a piece for violin and track. Walsh and Harron then cut the footage to the music. Deborah Buck, violin

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Features: Randall Woolf

CUE POINT #1: 1:04 CUE POINT #2: 10:50 A work by Randall Woolf for flute, violin, viola, cello, percussion and electronic track, made from samples of Vietnamese folk music, recharacterized by the counterpoint and harmony played the live Western instruments. Performed by the American Modern Ensemble.

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Muskegon, Michigan

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Last update on November 6, 2015

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Muskegon, Michigan
The Block is the West Michgian Symphony’s new  ’black box’ venue-a simple, accessible, inspirational space where honest music can happen—not to you, but with you. A place where music pushes the boundaries of tradition and expectation and encourages investigation. Concerts at The Block will include an intriguing, cross-pollinated mix of music that can be intimate…

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New York, New York
Brooklyn, New York
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Brooklyn, New York
Oud Player
Brooklyn, New York


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