From concept to concert hall

About the project

The symphony “In the Shadow of No Towers” was inspired by discussions between critically acclaimed composer Mohammed Fairouz and Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman about the tragic terrorist attacks on the iconic World Trade Center skyscrapers in the city both call home.

It begins with that disaster of Sept. 11, 2001 — an event whose effect on New York and the United States is still being measured — and explores the development of a post-9/11 reality, a broader vision for society that is enriched by the creative arts. Each movement takes as its point of departure a graphic detail from Spiegelman’s book.

Fairouz cites John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech to Amherst College as encapsulating the scope of this project. Kennedy’s speech explores the artist’s role in speaking truths about society and inspiring the country to move relentlessly forward. Kennedy also speaks of the need for artists to gain an appreciative audience that assists in advancing their messages

To help bring Fairouz’s vision to life, the symphony was commissioned by the nonprofit foundation Reach Out Kansas Inc., which was founded by Overland Park attorney and KU alumnus Jim Zakoura. It was written specifically for the KU Wind Ensemble and Paul W. Popiel, director of bands.

As part of the School of Music’s 2012-13 Concert Series, the Wind Ensemble traveled to New York City to perform the world premiere on March 26, 2013, at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. In this performance in America’s most renowned concert hall, in the city at the epicenter of the 9-11 tragedy, the students offer a message of honor, respect, and hope for the future. Proceeds from the Carnegie premiere will benefit the 9/11 Memorial.

The local premiere will be April 2 in at the Lied Center in Lawrence.

To read the notes about the work, visit Fairouz’s website.

KU Wind Ensemble Documentary KCPT 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11, 2014

New York Times review

"The ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, performed with polish, assurance and copious spirit, eliciting a rousing ovation..." Full review

KU Wind Ensemble releases 5th CD on Naxos Label

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