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Biography/

Composer

General
Zaid Jabri was born in Damascus. His mother is a renowned modernist artist and his father a retired director of television and theatre. His background and early interest in music alerted him to the dense and long histories of shared and reworked harmonic and instrumental strategies across such divides as East and West. The intersection of Western and Middle Eastern musical traditions converge in his compositions.


Education
Drawn to music from an early age, he studied violin with Riyad Sukar in Damascus. At the age of 19, he was accepted at the Academy of Music in Kraków where he completed his M. A. degree with honors and then pursued his doctorate under the directorship of Zbigniew Bujarski and Krzysztof Penderecki. He obtained his doctorate in 2014.


Career
While still studying for his doctorate, Zaid Jabri began receiving international recognition when he won the prestigious Adam Didur Composers' Competition in Sanok in 1997 for his “Two Songs for Soprano and String Orchestra.” The following year he was appointed Artist/Composer in residence at the Istanbul Bilgi University Music Department during Polish Composer’s Week. He was an instructor at the Krakow Academy of music and currently a resident composer at The Norwegian University of Sciense and Technology.
Jabri is also committed to facilitating the future careers of young musicians and composers, serving on juries for AFAC, the Adam Didur Composers’ Competition, ‘2 Agosto,’ Bilgi University and the Gdańsk Academy of Music.
He has lectured at Barnard College and Columbia University in New York, Harvard University, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Bilgi University in Istanbul, the Gdańsk Academy of Music, the Onassis Centre in Athens, and Alwan for Arts in New York, and The University of Victoria in Canada.


Compositions
Zaid Jabri’s work has been performed in Belgium, Canada, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Syria, Tunisia, the Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the USA. His work as featured at numerous festivals that include: the MATA Festival in New York, the SALT New Music Festival in Victoria, Canada, the Mediterranean Voices Project, the Oriental Landscape Festival in Damascus, the Musiikin Aika Festival in Helsinki, ECLAT in Stuttgart, the Modern Music Festival in Kiev, Ravenna Festival, the Festival of Polish Premiers of Contemporary Music in Katowice, and the Warsaw Autumn Festival. His works have been commissioned and performed internationally by such ensembles as Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica, the English Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Zera n, the Orchestra of the Teatro Communale, Bologne, the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Neue Vocalsolisten, Stuttgart, the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra.
His recent compositions demonstrate the range of his skills. These include: LIST SOME OF THE MOST RECENT WORKS INCLUDING A GARDEN AMONG THE FLAMES
One of his most ambitious current undertakings is the score for the opera Cities of Salt, based on the novel by Abdulrahman Munif, with a libretto by Yvette Christianse and Rosalind Morris. Four scenes and an intermezzo were showcased at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theater as part of the Shubbak Festival in July 2015.


Awards
Zaid Jabri is the recipient of prestigious fellowships and residencies. In 2011 he held a Tactus Composer’s residency and, in the same year was admitted to the Polish National Composer’s union (KZP). He also received the George Evans memorial fellowship at the Virginia Centre for the Creative Arts in the United States (2014), the Tactus Young Composers Forum residency in Belgium (2012), and a residential fellowship with the Rockefeller Foundation/Bellagio Centre (2015). In 2016-2017 he was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institution at Harvard University. He is currently a resident composer at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway
In addition to the 1997 Adam Didur Composers’ Competition in Sanok, Poland, for his Two Songs for soprano and string orchestra, and second prize at the 2012 ‘2 Agosto’ Competition in Bologna with Les Temps des pierres for baritone and symphony orchestra.

 

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Press/

 

"The next piece was the Oriento Grosso for Clarinet/Cello and Orchestra, a complex composition by another young Syrian musician (Zaid Jabri). Jabri’s composition is one of those brilliant compositions were a predominant melodic sentence is less important than the whole of the composition. Starting quietly, the piece escalates, in a rather sudden manner to a complex mixture of forceful sounds with no sound being very dominant except for the technically demanding Clarinet and Cello solo segments. The piece highlighted the astounding technical abilities of Kinan Azmeh (Clarinet), who was accompanied on Cello by another and no less capable Syrian Musician Athil Hamdan (the dean of the prestigious High Music Institute). Both players were excellent and seemed well in place with the increasingly eminent Pacific Symphony. Initially, I had mixed feelings about Jabri’s composition. While it had a faint sub-conscious oriental moody ambiance, this demanding composition was in no way your average attempt to fuse a lyrical sound from oriental music (theme song) into a western classical framework. Perhaps, a more elegant description of Zaid’s approach to composition can be gleaned by reading the words of Ambassador Imad Mustapha , who wrote describing his friend’s and fellow intellectual originality “Naturally, Zaid who is quite original and creative did not fall into the trap of rewriting popular musical tunes from Syria and the Middle East in a more sophisticated western musical language” . The Ambassador was right on point. The more I contrast this piece with another master piece (Shahrazad), which was superbly played in the second segment of yesterday’s program, I am forced to deeply admire the musical talents of Jabri. When I hear Shahrazad, I imagine exactly what I am supposed to imagine, a sleepy bazaar with camels and caravans, a group of Sultan’s soldiers marching, and a Harem. All would probably be wearing cloths you see in movies but that were never worn in reality. Shahrazad is aesthetically pleasing and remains one of classical music most cherished treasures. But on the other hand, when I heard Zaid’s Oriento Grosso yesterday, which I admit was for the first time, I could easily imagine Syria as I know it, not as portrayed by an orientalist or by a visiting musical prodigy sailor who became mesmerized by a dancer. I could hear the noises at major intersections and market places of Aleppo or Damascus. I could imagine these market places where the residential and the commercial intermingle with no discernable boundaries, and where sounds of modern life and those of the traditional are stressed to a point where the origin of each of them becomes subdued in the whole and their counteracting themes, both strong and voluminous, are acting not in turns, or even in parallel, but in a non-linear fashion with neither achieving victory over the other. This work is no less skillful or original than the work of some of the modern masters. To me Zaid Jabri is not an oriental musician, he is a Syrian composer of good modern classical music with potentials for a place among the masters. Kinan, Athil, as well as St Clair and his outstanding orchestra clearly understood this dramatic piece and made it, as the OC Registrar critic wrote “the biggest surprise of the evening”. As we all stood in yet one more standing ovation, from my vintage point, I could see the look of confusion and surprise on the faces of many who were enthusiastically clapping. Had I been looking at a mirror, I would have seen the same look in my own eyes."

 

OC Register Concert Review (for the March 12 concert)

 

 

 

"As for Zaid Jabri, I can affirm without any hesitation that the future holds great promise for this astounding and incredibly gifted young composer. When I first heard his music, I couldn’t believe my ears, and felt so proud that out of a country with almost no western classical music tradition, a composer of world class standards would emerge on par with other composers who come from countries with deeply rooted musical traditions. What I particularly like about the music of Zaid Jabri is his seamless integration of the oriental music aesthetics; sounds that our subconscious taste is accustomed to and familiar with, and the most advanced musical idioms that are prevalent in the West today. Naturally, Zaid who is quite original and creative did not fall into the trap of rewriting popular musical tunes from Syria and the Middle East in a more sophisticated western musical language. When I first met Zaid in the summer of 2004, we became immediate friends. I had a lengthy and fascinating conversation with him, and subsequently I wrote an article about his music and published it in the Syrian weekly ‘Abiad wa Aswad’. I am still following the progress of his career, looking forward to the day that he will get the world recognition he rightly deserves."

 

Dr.Imad Mustapha

Weblog of a Syrian Diplomat in America

 

 

 

"Stunning the rapt audience, English soprano Mary Bevan sang in Polish to Syrian composer Zaid Jabri’s string compositions."

 

Alfarabi press release London 2007

Contact/

 

Email: zjabri@gmail.com