Past Performances

Photo Credit: Sandra Borchers
May 17 - 18, 2024

Liszt and Saint-Saëns

Indianapolis Symphony
Indianapolis, IN

British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor dazzles his way through Liszt’s colorful First Piano Concerto. The program begins with Roland furieux, a symphonic poem by Augusta Holmès, a composer with close ties to Liszt and Saint-Saëns in the late 19th century. Indianapolis born conductor Kazem Abdullah concludes with Saint-Saëns brilliant organ symphony, a piece that was dedicated to Liszt.

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April 25, 26, 27 2024

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

North Carolina Symphony
Wilmington and Raleigh, NC

Humperdinck: Prelude to Hansel and Gretel

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto

Sibelius: Symphony No. 5

Sirena Huang, violin

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March 17, 2024


International Contemporary Ensemble
Berlin, Germany

Multiple perspectives offer multiple possibilities: this is the core idea behind “Polyaspora” at MaerzMusik, where the International Contemporary Ensemble will perform the “yet unheard,” including works by Charles Uzor, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Aida Shirazi, Raven Chacon, Laure M. Hiendl, and Jessie Cox.

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February 24 & 25, 2024
March 1, 3, 6, & 9, 2024

X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X

Seattle Opera
Seattle, WA

Music by Anthony Davis; Libretto by Thulani Davis; Story by Christopher Davis

Activist. Orator. Husband. Leader. One of the most misunderstood figures in US history, Malcolm X was an icon of the civil rights movement. Get to know the man through a series of biographical vignettes that follow Malcolm X from his interrupted childhood in Lansing, Michigan to his tragic murder in Harlem. With a score by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Anthony Davis (Central Park Five) that fuses elements of modernism, minimalism, and jazz, X produces a sound world that is unmistakably individual.

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January 26, 27, 28 2024

Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5

Kansas City Symphony
Kansas City, MO

Jun Iwasaki, violin

ERICH KORNGOLD Symphony in F-sharp

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Jan 4 & 6, 2024

Ravel Piano Concerto

Naples Philharmonic
Naples, FL

Fazil Say, piano

L. Boulanger — D'un matin de printemps
Ravel — Piano Concerto in G Major
Copland — Symphony No. 3

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Nov 3 - Dec 2, 2023

X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X

The Metropolitan Opera
New York, NY

Anthony Davis’s groundbreaking and influential opera, which premiered in 1986, arrives at the Met at long last. Theater luminary and Tony-nominated director of Slave Play Robert O’Hara oversees a potent new staging that imagines Malcolm as an Everyman whose story transcends time and space. An exceptional cast of breakout artists and young Met stars enliven the operatic retelling of the civil rights leader’s life. Baritone Will Liverman, who triumphed in the Met premiere of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, sings Malcolm X, alongside soprano Leah Hawkins as his mother, Louise; mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis as his sister Ella; bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as his brother Reginald; and tenor Victor Ryan Robertson as Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Kazem Abdullah conducts the newly revised score, which provides a layered, jazz-inflected setting for the esteemed writer Thulani Davis’s libretto.

A video recording of the full opera is available to stream on the Met Opera website at the link below.

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July 8, 2023

An American Celebration

Lara Downes and Brevard Music Center Orchestra
Brevard, NC

Iconic American pianist Lara Downes joins Maestro Kazem Abdullah in a celebration of American music. Irving Fine’s energetic Toccata Concertante opens a program that includes a preview performance of a brand new concerto by the dean of American composers, Adolphus Hailstork. George Gershwin’s beloved An American in Paris brings the concert to a joyous conclusion.

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July 7, 2023

Ravel's Concerto in G

Brevard Sinfonia
Brevard, NC

Ravel's delightful Piano Concerto in G, filled with the sounds of American Jazz and Spanish Basque folk music, serves as the centerpiece of this multimedia concert exploring New World Encounters, and the influences of Jazz on three major European composers - Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, and Maurice Ravel. This scripted program also includes Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements, excerpts from Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis, and music from the famed Woody Herman band.

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June 17, 2023

Saratosa Music Festival

Sarasota Orchestra


RESPIGHI Botticelli Triptych
TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme
MOZART Symphony No. 41 in C Major ("Jupiter")

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May 19 - 20, 2023

Dvořák Symphony No. 8

Charlotte Symphony
Charlotte, NC


Alexi Kenney - Violin

* MOZART Symphony No. 38 in D Major, "Prague"
* STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto in D Major
* DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 8 in G Major

A departure from his previous work, Dvořák's cheerful Symphony No. 8 evokes wonderment. Led by "attentive" (The Florida Times-Union) guest conductor Kazem Abdullah, this program also includes works by Mozart and Stravinsky.

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May 12, 2023

New Music from Selaocoe and Keita

Abel Selaocoe, Seckou Keita & Chineke! Orchestra
London, UK

The new concerto – the first of its kind – merges the sound-worlds of Western Africa, Southern Africa and Europe, immersing the listener in an exploration of the interplay and soundscapes between the cello and kora.

Selaocoe and Keita have collaborated as performers to critical acclaim and this new concerto draws on many inspirations and traditions in their writing, from Selaocoe’s South African roots and Keita’s immersion in the kora tradition of southern Senegal.

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May 6, 2023

Symphonie Fantastique

Robinson Center
Little Rock, AR


Frederick Delius: Irmelin: Prelude
Doreen Carwithen: Concerto for Piano and Strings, feat. Samantha Ege
Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

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April 14-15, 2023

Kazem conducts Barber and Mozart

San Antonio Philharmonic


The only thing better than a concert featuring works by Barber and Mozart is a concert featuring two works by these illustrious composers. The Philharmonic will share Barber’s Adagio for Strings—arguably his best-known work—which was originally the slow movement from his String Quartet, Op. 11. Then, because both Barber and Mozart were known for their skill at composing for voice, soprano Vanessa Becerra joins Kazem Abdullah for Mozart’s concert aria, Bella mi fiamma, and for Barber’s wistful and nostalgic Knoxville Summer of 1915,which is set to a prose poem by James Agee. The concert closes with Kazem and the orchestra performing Mozart’s beloved Symphony No. 40.

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Mar 24 - Apr 08, 2023

Proximity - World Premiere

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Sure to be one of the most widely heralded musical events of 2022/23, Proximity is a gripping, powerful trio of new works that confronts head-on some of the greatest challenges affecting us as a society: yearning for connection in a world driven by technology; the devastating impact of gun violence on cities and neighborhoods; and the need to respect and protect our natural resources.

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Feb 2 - 4, 2023

Sibelius Symphony No. 7

Seattle Symphony

For his seventh and final symphony, Sibelius distilled all his powers down to a succinct, momentous closing statement — an odyssey contained in just over 20 minutes. A newly commissioned work from Dai Fujikura takes its inspiration from this enigmatic work. We welcome back Augustin Hadelich to perform Britten’s Violin Concerto, composed in the growing shadows of World War II.

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Jan 28, 2023

Winter Playlist with Higdon & Hris

Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra

In collaboration with New Music for America, ICO is proud to present the Indiana premiere of living composer, Jennifer Higdon’s Suite on Cold Mountain. ICO welcomes Indianapolis native, Kazem Abdullah, as a guest conductor. World-renowned violinist, 2006 IVCI Laureate, and local favorite Bella Hristova will captivate audiences with Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

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Jan 12 - 15, 2023

Tom Borrow plays Beethoven

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Atlanta, GA

This week, Beethoven meets American music. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra presents the Atlanta debut of American conductor Kazem Abdullah, an artist famous for taking orchestral music in new directions through genre-bending collaborations. He leads Ives’ Second Symphony, a work that paraphrases and blends styles ranging from hymns to folk songs to Bach. The young Israeli pianist Tom Borrow joins Maestro Abdullah and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for Beethoven’s exquisitely soulful Piano Concerto No. 4.

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Oct 27 - Nov 13, 2022


LA Opera
Los Angeles, CA

In 1807, a 37-year-old scholar living in West Africa was captured and forced aboard a ship bound for Charleston, South Carolina. Omar Ibn Said's life and Muslim faith are remembered and retold in this inspirational West Coast premiere inspired by his remarkable 1831 autobiography (the only known surviving American slavery narrative written in Arabic).

Set in the shifting darkness of memory and imagination, Omar follows his compelling journey from a peaceful life in his homeland to enslavement in a violent, foreign world. Reflecting on his life journey, he's haunted by memories of his family and the people he encounters along the way. Through it all, he somehow remains true to himself and his faith, against all odds. The luminous score—composed by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels—incorporates distinctive West African traditions with traditional opera instrumentation.

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May 14-22, 2022

X, Life and Times of Malcolm X

Michigan Opera Theater
Detroit, Michigan, USA

The astonishing life of one of the most misunderstood men in history unfolds in X: The Life and Times of Malcom X. This distinctly American opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis (Central Park Five) and directed by Tony-nominee Robert O’Hara (Slave Play) features a jazz ensemble incorporated into the orchestra and MOT 21-22 Artist-in-Residence Davóne Tines embodying the role of Malcolm X. This new production of X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X is a powerful, moving exploration of how one man’s fight to define his life on his own terms became the battle cry for justice of an entire people

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April 7, 2022

Kazem Abdullah Conducts Tchaikovsky

River Center Theatre
Baton Rouge, LA, USA

Baton Rouge Symphony

Kazem Abdullah, conductor
Matthew Hakkarainen, violin


ROSSINI: Overture to La Gazza Ladra
SIBELIUS: Violin Concerto
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6, Pathétique

A vibrant, versatile and compelling presence on the podium, American conductor Kazem Abdullah is one of the most watched talents on the international stage today. Kazem currently lives in Nürnberg, Germany. He was Music and Artistic Director of the City of Aachen, Germany from 2012 to 2017. He will be joined by our youngest soloist of the season, 20 year old Matthew Hakkarainen. Matthew is an extraordinary student at the Curtis Institute of Music, he has previously performed with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony. Kazem and Matthew will collaborate on the Sibelius Violin Concerto.

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Mar 18-26, 2022

The Central Park Five

Portland Opera
Portland, OR, USA

Winner of the Pulitzer Price for Music in 2020, The Central Park Five takes us to New York City in the late 80s—when five Black and Latino teenagers were falsely accused of rape and assault, and coerced into confession, during a terrible incident that gripped the nation, and still strikes our hearts.After serving prison sentences, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise were exonerated through DNA evidence. This courageous work speaks to the injustices and experiences they endured.

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February 6, 2022

Perry Gilmore Plays Saint-Georges

Omaha Symphony, Joslyn Art Museum
Omaha, NE, USA

Susanna Perry Gilmore takes the stage in her performance of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges' violin concerto No. 9 in G Major.

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