Review: Dallas Symphony premiere of Roustom concerto, incorporating Middle Eastern and Western classical styles

Posted on: May 20, 2021

“ ‘In memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and far too many others.’ That’s the postscript on the last page of Kareem Roustom’s Second Violin Concerto … premiered Thursday by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with its principal second violinist, Angela Fuller Heyde,” writes Tim Diovanni in Sunday’s (5/16) Dallas Morning News. “Roustom, a Syrian-born American composer, completed the concerto last summer, [when] ‘It was impossible not to be aware of what was going on … and not feel this profound grief and frustration.’ … Fuller Heyde said that even if Roustom didn’t explicitly make the connection to the recent social justice movement, all the emotions from 2020 would still impact her interpretation. Fuller Heyde [commissioned] Roustom to write a concerto using a grant available to the DSO’s principal players…. Roustom, who plays the oud, a kind of lute mainly performed in Arab countries, is well-versed in both Middle Eastern and Western classical musical traditions. And his concerto takes inspiration from both styles…. The piece, he said, ‘came from a place of recognizing and realizing personal fragility.’ But over time, this sense of fragility took on a larger, broader meaning, he added, as the pandemic tore across the globe.”