Syrian-American Kareem Roustom is a composer whose genre crossing collaborations include music commissioned by conductor Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, arrangements for pop icons Shakira and Tina Turner, as well as a recent collaboration with acclaimed British choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh. Roustom has been composer-in-residence at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, and with the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen in Germany and the Mannheim Philharmonic. A musically bi-lingual composer, Roustom is rooted in the music of the Arab near-east but his music often expresses beyond the confines of tradition. The themes of a number of his works often touch issues of those affected by war and instability.
Roustom’s music has been performed by ensembles that include the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Minnesota Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Boulez Ensemble, Oregon Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse, The Crossing choir, Lorelei Ensemble, A Far Cry, and at renowned festivals and halls such as the BBC Proms, the Salzburg Festival, the Lucerne Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Verbier Festival, the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, and others. Roustom has been composer-in-residence with the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Grant Park Music Festival, the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen, and the Mannheim Philharmonic.
Roustom has received commissions from the Malmö Symphony Orchestra (Sweden), the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Teton Music Festival (2018 & 2023 seasons), the Grant Park Music Festival, the Daniel Barenboim Stiftung (2013, 2015, & 2017), the Pierre Boulez Saal, the Royal Philharmonic Society & Sadler’s Wells Theatre (U.K.), A Far Cry & Lorelei Ensemble and others. Roustom’s music has also been recorded by the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester (Berlin), and the Philharmonia Orchestra (London).
The Chicago Tribune wrote that Roustom is “a gifted and accomplished artist, one of the most prominent active Arab-American composers,” BBC Radio3 described Roustom’s music as “among the most distinctive to have emerged from the Middle East”, and The New York Times described it as “propulsive, colorful and immediately appealing.” The Guardian (London) wrote that Roustom’s music is “arrestingly quirky and postmodern…music with lots of personality.” Roustom holds the position of Professor of the Practice at Tufts University’s Department of Music in Boston. Roustom’s awards include an Emmy nomination and an Aaron Copland House Residency Award.