Takht (2016) for full orchestra - ca. 12'
Takht (for sinfonietta) excerpt
2017 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, Selected Work
2017 New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, Selected Work
2017 Sioux City Symphony Orchestra Composer of the Year, Selected Work
2017 ASCAP Nissim Prize, Special Distinction
"Saad Haddad [...] achieved a remarkable fusion of idioms in Takht, named for the Arabic word for 'ensemble.' He uses Western relatives of Arabic instruments to create a convincing equivalent of a Middle Eastern ensemble. The most striking effect, intended to evoke the voice of the Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum (1898-1975) and heard at the outset, is the harpist’s haunting vocalization of a drooping semitone through cupped hands into the instrument’s soundboard." – New York Times
"Saad Haddad’s Takht has Middle Eastern influences which translate into a beautifully unconventional approach to the symphony orchestra" – Steven Mackey
The title of this work, Takht (‘ensemble’ in Arabic), describes the typical Middle Eastern musical group that consists of most of the traditional instruments used in Arabic music, including the oud, qanun, kamanjah, ney, riqq, and darbakeh. Originally composed for a chamber orchestra of 15 players (one per part), this work reflects a symphonic expansion of the Western equivalent of that ensemble. Some of the instruments even share similarities between each other; for example, the 'ney' is similar to the flute in construction, while the 'kamanjah' sounds very much like the violin. An ongoing muse in my output thus far is the voice of arguably the most famous Egyptian singer who ever lived, Umm Kulthum (1898–1975), the “Star of the East.” In this particular work, her voice, in a sense, is brought back to life as the woodwinds, brass, and harp instrumentalists literally sing and play into their instruments, transforming the hall into an abstract depiction of Umm Kulthum’s permeating presence in the lives of millions of people that continue to adore her today.
Premiered April 29, 2017: Sioux City Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ryan Haskins at Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, IA
Additional performances by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (2017), Minnesota Orchestra (2017)