ArtsQueens University Charlotte

Queens University Charlotte Celebrates Malek Jandali’s World Premiere

Queens University of Charlotte celebrates the world premiere of Malek Jandali’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra on Saturday, Mar. 9, 2024 at 8 p.m. at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. The concerto is in collaboration with the Fairfax Symphony and features Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic as soloist. Jandali and McGill will discuss the concerto with Music Director Christopher Zimmerman in a pre-concert talk at 7:00 p.m. For tickets and information, visit The Fairfax Symphony website or by phone at 703-993-2787.

Jandali’s clarinet concerto is dedicated “in memory of all victims of injustice everywhere” and passionately advocates for peace and human rights for all, particularly for children. As in his other works, Jandali infuses the concerto with folk melodies and musical forms from his rich Arabic cultural heritage. The program opens with selections from Jandali’s Symphony No. 6 “The Desert Rose” and includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.”

“Music unites people. It has the magical power to transform and transcend and change the narrative,” said Jandali. “What I am trying to do is preserve my culture through music by integrating ancient melodies that represent my people and my rich heritage in a symphony for peace.” 

McGill says of the concerto, “In the midst of the pain and the violence and injustice in the world, all we are left with is the ability to pour our hearts and our souls into something more beautiful, into something more powerful, so it can communicate throughout all time and live on.”

The Mar. 9 concert marks the first live performance of the clarinet concerto. In May of 2023, Chicago-based record label Cedille Records released an album of Jandali’s concertos, including this one, which featured McGill as soloist and world-renowned conductor, Marin Alsop, leading the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. According to McGill, “having a piece written for me…allows me to delve even deeper into how I can use my voice as a musician and all of my experiences to make that music come alive.”

“Malek Jandali is a masterful, prolific composer, who is becoming a sensation not only in this country but the world over,” said Chris Zimmerman, FSO music director and conductor. “His music, often inspired by the cruel realities of social upheaval in the country of his birth, is unfailingly touching, direct and emotional. In some respects, Beethoven’s music may seem like the other end of the spectrum, but his Symphony No. 3 was also inspired by the cruel social upheavals of his time. Originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, he tore up that dedication once he saw the tyrannical direction in which that hugely influential European leader was heading. By knowing no boundaries, music of all styles unites.”

Anthony McGill makes his Fairfax Symphony debut at this concert. McGill currently serves as principal clarinetist at the New York Philharmonic, where he became the first-ever Black principal musician in the orchestra’s history. He received the 2020 Avery Fisher Prize in recognition of his artistic excellence and was recently named Musical America’s 2024 Instrumentalist of the Year.

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