SXSW 2011 Recap
Music at First: Mellissa Hughes and Lorna Krier, 3/25/11

John Kameel Farah @ Alwan Center, 3/24/11

DSC07259Toronto pianist/composer John Farah was back in NYC last week, performing his unique brand of music that seamlessly blends classical, middle-eastern and electronic elements. Several of the compositions from Thursday's program at downtown's Alwan Center for the Arts were new since his appearances here last year, most composed during a residency he was awarded in Toronto last fall.

"Mercurial" was an intense swarm of arpeggiated chords, flecked with elements of jazz, funk, even Latin music. "Distances" was more spacious and surreal, using a heavy pedal to create a Messiaen-like spectral shade. "Sama'i Point" was quick and precise, played with the wild ecstasy of a whirling dervish. 

As an encore, John played a prelude he wrote the day before, performing it flawlessly from his handwritten notebook. It was a minor-miracle: starting out with the Baroque precision of Bach, it soon morphed into something far more grotesque and gripping. John told us that he's been living in Berlin for the past few months, and while he's no doubt absorbed that city's dually-rich heritage in classical and electronic music, there's clearly something about NYC that gets his juices going.

More pics on Flickr.