Discipline: Music Composition

Firas Zreik

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Brooklyn, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2023

Artist-composer, lyricist and educator Firas Zreik has performed and recorded internationally since 2013. The Palestine-born New Yorker has transformed global perception of the Kanun, preserving its identity as a vital part of the maqam tradition while stretching its potential as a cultural chameleon. His approach translates the kanun’s resonant depth with a mastery of microtonal sound scaping and improvisation.

He has collaborated with Roger Waters, Simon Shaheen, Amir ElSaffar, Fabrizio Cassol, Marwan Khoury, Abeer Nehmeh, Elias Karam, Shreya Goshal, Shankar Mahadevan, Aynur Dogan, G.E. Smith, David Broza, and his mother and frequent artistic partner Amal Murkus, for whom he serves as musical director.

Zreik has appeared at WOMEX international music expo, Smithsonian Museum, Savannah Music Festival, Tunisia’s Carthage International Festival and Hill Auditorium, as well as The Jazz Gallery, Lincoln Center and Historic Greenwood in New York City; Boston Symphony Hall and Berklee Performance Center in Boston; Institute du Monde Arabe and La Bellevilloise in Paris; Palais de Congres in Belgium; and Teatro Mediterraneo in Italy.

Following the release of two singles, in 2020 Zreik issued his debut EP Solo (Levantine Music), and will soon release his first full-length recording featuring his 8-piece band. He has garnered global recognition as a member of the Medinea Network and participant in the 2013 Beit A-Musica Guildhall Exchange program in London, and the Intercultural Session in both Aix En Provence and Sardinia, Italy.

In 2019, Zreik attended the Blue Mountain Center Residency where he served as Artist-in-Residence. Recently, he appeared on the Arab America Foundation’s 30 Under 30 list. Zreik has taught at the Arabic Music Retreat and Circle World Arts, and delivered workshops at NYU Abu Dhabi, Tufts and Berklee.

At MacDowell, Zreik worked on new instrumental compositions that draw inspiration from folkloric Palestinian themes and feature a Takht ensemble (traditional Arab ensemble of Kanun, Oud, Nay, Violin & Percussion). Additionally, he worked on new songs and lyrics for collaborations with other vocalists, as well as new materials for an upcoming instrumental album.



Firas Zreik worked in the Barnard studio.

Originally built near MacDowell's Union Street entrance, the Barnard Studio — which was funded by Barnard College music students — was re-located to its current site in 1910. When the small structure was moved, its size was doubled with the addition of a second room. This remodeling, financed by Mrs. Thomas E. Emery of Cincinnati…

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