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'Concert lecture' examines modern Middle Eastern life


In a concert entitled "The Last Resistance" Thursday evening, pianist Steven Spooner played pieces composed by Mohammed Fairouz that were influenced by issues involving the Middle East, including American sentiments toward the region preceding and following the 9/11 attacks.

The performance was a "concert lecture," said Michael Steinberg, professor of history and music and director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities, in his opening remarks. To that effect, Fairouz introduced and explained each piece to the audience.

"I think that there's certainly a message to think critically about the Middle East — to think analytically about this extremely complicated region and set of political challenges," Steinberg said.

The concert included two of Fairouz's sonatas, "Reflections on Exile" and "The Last Resistance," works inspired by the literature of Palestinian-American literary theorist Edward Said and English author Jacqueline Rose, respectively. Rose has written about the Middle East for the last 15 years, Steinberg said.

Throughout the performance, the audience — which filled a little more than half the auditorium — was utterly silent and met the finale with a standing ovation.

"I enjoyed how it was contemporary, but accessible," said Will Palmer '15.

The concert — which took place in the Martinos Auditorium of the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for Creative Arts — was the second installment of the Cogut Center's Critical Dialogues in Arts and Humanities. The three-part program was designed to emphasize "the meeting grounds between the humanities and the arts" and foster "dialogues between people who are doing different things," Steinberg said. 

The program also included a lecture by Rose Wednesday and a conversation between Rose and Fairouz the day after the concert, which Steinberg moderated. 

The recent redesign of Pembroke Hall and construction of the Granoff Center have created a "premium space in which to develop new programs for performance and exhibition related work," Steinberg said. "The critical dialogues are an initiative that I hope will move forwards."


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