Meeting Mohammed Fairouz | Q & A

Just this week, the Choir began its rehearsals of ZABUR, the just-written composition by New York composer Mohammed Fairouz. As we look eagerly to our April 24th premiere, Mohammed and I have been discussing the work, the choir and the world in which we find ourselves.


When I asked “Momo” what drew him to our project, he cited our unique consortium approach, in which numerous choral directors and musicians from our community provided input on the scope of the work. Everything from length of the work, orchestration and use of children's voices, as well as possible texts were considered. “Your approach in securing community buy-in from an early stage was a good one, and showed me that this project already enjoys broad support.”


ES: Tell us about your use of the Psalms for ZABUR.


MF: Well, ZABUR is the Arabic word for the Psalms, and the fact that this body of texts is regarded as special and important by practitioners of Judaism, Christianity and Islam made it an obvious choice, and reflective of the consortium's wish to create a work that spoke broadly to our common experience.


ES: Can you describe the scene that you depict in your work for us?


MF: Sure. It begins with the choirs (ISC and Indianapolis Children's Choir) expressing their grief and outrage over a battle that rages just outside the shelter in which they find themselves. David, a poet, struggles to find inspiration among them, until Gabriel appears and suggests that the community join together to express themselves in music. 


ES: So yours is a message of music bringing people together?


MF: Absolutely. And we know we live in a world crying out for healing. Just look at the headlines we read every day. Though our work is not set in a particular location, it could so easily be Paris, Wall Street, Aleppo, Jerusalem or Gaza. 


Next time, we will ask Momo more about his use of Psalm 2 and 102, as well as introduce his librettist, Najla Said.