Saad Haddad (b. 1992) is a composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and electroacoustic music that achieves a “remarkable fusion of idioms” (New York Times), most notably in his work exploring the disparate qualities inherent in Western art music and Middle Eastern musical tradition. His music delves into that relationship by transferring the performance techniques of traditional Arabic instruments to Western symphonic instruments, while extending their capabilities through the advancement of technology.
LISTEN: Kaman Fantasy for violin and piano
Ambra Casonato (violin) and Ava Nazar (piano)
Kaman Fantasy takes its name from ‘kamanjah,’ the Arabic word for ‘violin.’ The piece is an exploration of the Arabic ‘maqamat’ (sets of scales) and rhythms in a Western classical context. The music embraces both traditions, often swaying back and forth between Arabic and Western idioms. Since the piano itself is not found in the Arab musical canon, I decided to prepare the instrument’s middle range in an effort to mimic the sound of a common Middle Eastern instrument, the ‘qanun.’ As a first generation Arab-American, I have often found myself shifting between both cultures in the way that I think and act, sometimes voluntarily, most times not. Kaman Fantasy is a reflection on those experiences.