Canadian-American composer Karim Al-Zand’s compositions are wide-ranging in influence and inspiration, encompassing solo, chamber, vocal and orchestral works. The Boston Globe has described his music as “strong and startlingly lovely.” From scores for dance, to compositions for young people, to multi-disciplinary and collaborative works, Al-Zand’s music is diverse in both its subject matter and its audience. It explores connections between music and other arts, and draws inspiration from varied sources such as graphic art, myths and fables, folk music of the world, film, spoken word, jazz, and his own Middle Eastern heritage. His music has enjoyed success in the United States, Canada and abroad. Al-Zand is the recipient of several national awards, including the Sackler Composition Prize, the ArtSong Prize, the Louisville Orchestra Competition Prize and the “Arts and Letters Award in Music” from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Al-Zand is a founding and artistic board member of Musiqa, Houston’s premier contemporary music group, which presents concerts featuring new and classic repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries. In his scholarly work, he has pursued several diverse areas of music theory, including topics in jazz, counterpoint, and improvisation (both jazz and 18th century extemporization). Al-Zand was born in Tunis, Tunisia, raised in Ottawa, Canada, and educated in Montreal at McGill University where he earned his B.A. in Music (1993). Since earning his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2000, he has taught at the Shepard School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
Al-Zand was introduced to Cabrillo Festival audiences in 2017 with his Festival-commission world premiere, The Prisoner, featuring baritone Jonathan Lemalu. This season, he returns for the performance of a newly re-orchestrated family work, Parizade and the Singing Tree, featuring narrator Nora el Samahy, on Sunday, August 5, at the Free Family Concert.