Though born, raised, and compositionally trained in Southern California and currently pursuing a master’s degree at Juilliard under the tutelage of John Corigliano, 23-year-old Saad Haddad has been focused on creating music that incorporates traditional Middle Eastern musical aesthetics. But he is not at all dogmatic in his transfer of Arabic music theory to pieces that are designed to be interpreted by musicians trained in Western classical music and performed for its usual audiences.
Let’s consider the case of this article. The title occurred to me in an instant, and within that instant, I knew I had enough ideas to fill an article. Up until that point, I honestly had absolutely no idea what I was going to write about. I am not claiming that it is a “divinely inspired” title, as that would be a little presumptuous. But the fact remains, it came to me when I needed it, so that I could meet my deadline.
By virtue of our recording project, the Kepler Quartet has had a privileged window into the essentially spiritual quest in Ben Johnston’s music. Johnston embraces a richer way of being: to work towards pure, honest relationships with others by using a vertical, harmonic approach concentrating on perfect intervals which produce less discord, increased resonance, and maximum clarity. At age 90, a full fifteen years after he stopped writing music, Johnston has come to a place in his life where his main goal is to have a positive impact on his environment.
There was a very distinct point at the beginning of my composing career when a decision changed absolutely everything for me. My future would take time to pan out, of course, but at the moment when I chose the three-letter response instead of the two-letter one, an entirely new career path was set into motion.