Duration ca. 12′ 30″
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Performances of Ramal
2014: Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), BBC Proms (England), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Salzburg Festival (Austria)
2015: Malmo Opera Orchestra (Sweden)
2016: U.S. Premiere Grand Teton Music Festival (Jackson Hole, WY)
2017: Grant Park Music Festival (Chicago), Nurenberg Staatstheatre Orchestra (Germany Premiere), LUCA University for the arts Symfonieorkest (Belgian Premiere)
2018: Minnesota Orchestra, Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen
2019: Symphoria Orchestra (New York Premiere)
Daniel Barenboim on Ramal
“Roustom… has written a very brilliant rhythmical piece, extremely well orchestrated.”
Ramal is a commissioned work for the West-Eastern DIVAN Orchestra. The first performance was given at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires on August 11th 2014 by the West-Eastern DIVAN Orchestra under the direction of Daniel Barenboim. Subsequent performances by the same took place at the Teatro Colón August 13th, the Lucerne Festival on August 17th, the BBC Proms on August 20th, and the Salzburg Festival on August 22nd, 2014.
Ramal is “propulsive, colorful and [an] immediately appealing creation.”New York Times, Read full article
“arrestingly quirky and postmodern… This was music with lots of personality”The Guardian, Read full article
“Ramal was refreshingly decisive. The transitions… were so ingenious, and the whole thing shaped with such irresistible momentum”The Telegraph, Read full review
“Roustom’s Ramal was a natural companion piece to the colouristic, richly-textured Ravel – a sort of anti-Boléro, whose jagged rhythms and fretful unease spoke of conflict silenced elsewhere in the evening. Nervy strings bustled fractiously, punctuated by low brass mutterings and squalls of tuned percussion.”The Independent, Read full review
Read a letter of recommendation for Ramal and Kareem Roustom from maestro Daniel Barenboim here.
“Poetry and music originate from the same root: the balance between movement and stillness.”
Ramal is the name of one of sixteen pre-Islamic Arabic poetic meters used in classical Arabic poetry. Each of these poetic meters is comprised of multiple variations of the verb فعل (fa’al), which means ‘to do’. These variants of fa’al are constructed by combining a series of unaccented [o] and accented [/] syllables.
The variation of the ramal poetic meter used in this work follows this pattern:
فاعلاتن فاعلن فاعلاتن فاعلاتان
as symbol (read left to right):
/o//o/o – /o//o – /o//o/o – /o//o/oo
as musical meter:
7/8 5/8 7/8 8/8
This poetic meter is used as a structural framework throughout the work. The opening section expands the metric cycle by gradually adding rests to each measure, while the closing section contracts by gradually removing the added rests. The middle, and largest, section of the piece develops the rhythmic and melodic motifs with contrasting moods that range from intimate and reflective to declamatory and strident. Although the work is not programmatic in its design, its emotional drive and changing meters reflect the unsettled state of the world, specifically the devastating current situation in Syria. Despite all this, there is a tone of defiance in Ramal. Dedicated to the memory of Edward Said, Ramal is inspired by his steadfast determination to speak truth to power.
© 2014 Layali Music Publishing, BMI