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Farangis Nurulla-Khoja

Farangis Nurulla-Khoja is a Tajik-Swedish-Canadian composer born in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) in the family of well-known Tajik composer, Ziyodullo Shahidi.
She is presented at Nordic Music Days with a world premiere, a piece for Arctic Philharmonic Sinfonietta, commissioned by Nordic Music Days. The piece will be conducted by Tim Weiss.

She holds a doctorate of Fine Arts in Composition from the University of Gothenburg, she also studied electro-acoustic music at IRCAM. She studied with Ole Lützow-Holm, Roger Reynolds, Brian Ferneyhough and Philippe Leroux, also followed masterclasses with Gérard Grisey and Jonathan Harvey. Farangis lives by the criteria of international life and follows the aesthetic language of contemporary music. A musician, she works with the conviction that dance is the complement of music, and that language – particularly the language of poets – is above all a series of communicative sounds. For her, making music is a journey into the unknown, a search for sounds unheard and forms unseen.

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Nurulla-Khoja’s compositions include symphonic, chamber, vocal and electro-acoustic music. She has composed over 50 pieces, played in over 21 countries. She received the grand prize of the Abu Gazali Foundation in Salzburg for her orchestra piece ‘Replica’ in 2000. The Canada Arts Council’s Joseph S. Stauffer Prize for the Arts was awarded to Farangis for the best mid-carrier composer of 2008. III Magistralia Competition for Composers awarded Farangis a prize for her orchestra piece ‘Parparon’ (Oviedo, Spain), 2010. The prize at Andrey Petrov Composers Competition (Saint Petersburg, Russia) in 2014 for her sinfonietta ‘Ravishi Nur’; Grazyna Bacewicz International Composer Competition (Lodz, Pologne) en 2015 for her concerto ‘Daidu’ – for Violine, String orchestra and three percussions. Her recent orchestral piece ‘L’infini de l’instant’ won at the Andrey Petrov Composers Competition (Saint Petersburg, Russia), 2016. In October 2016, Farangis Nurulla received the prize of Recognition from the Longueuil Art Council. In 2017 she received a Gold Medal ”Best of show” of the 2017 from Global Music Award. In 2018 Farangis was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

What is Truth, in art? Is music, often wordless, freer than other art forms? Any thoughts on this?

No person is an island. There is no idea without inspiration. All are interconnected, a part of the whole, and just as art could not exist without life, life can not exist without art. You have to be truthful to yourself, then we can say there is a truth in art. That raises another question: Does art imitate life? Yes, however, it is the art of life, which makes life comprehensible. The artist looks into, around, and towards life and life as music is unpredictable and contradictive which makes it interesting. I think the truth in art is the capacity to enhance the current situation for better through widening the space of the imagination of people.

You say you live by the criteria of international life and follows the aesthetic language of contemporary music. Can you explain the way you think as a composer?

I just need a little inspiration to write a piece – the trace of the fragment of a sound that captivates my attention; a single physical gesture that often hides a great potential and leads to a meaning; a special timbre and how it changes into another sound. Often the origin of my works is inspired by books, films, paintings. Before I start composing, I try to work with musicians to explore sound material and build a close relationship with the way of playing and we explore different possibilities of playing, it is basically a collaboration about discovering sounds and their meaning. I like to focus on my ears and constantly realign, to play with my perception of the sound events.

As a Tajik-Swedish-Canadian composer, how do you see the contemporary Nordic music field? Is there a Nordic sound? And if so, do you feel that you are a part of it?

I must say that I don’t nationalize my music, I don’t know if it’s possible to give some certain nationalistic approach to a piece of art, in general. So it influences us, but whatever comes out from us. We live in a global world, it’s very important to try to think outside of the box as much as possible, to have the openness to let something new influence you. This approach has led to me writing music that is more gestural and colorful.

Nordic Music Days commissioned a piece by you, and you are writing for the Arctic Philharmonic Sinfonietta.
Can you tell something about this work? What do you want us to listen for in your new piece?

My piece Le gouffre de l’oubliis still in process. The piece is inspired by the writings of Fernando Pessoa mostly after the book of Disquiet, the autobiography of someone who never existed, which is funny, lively, and desperately sad, it was found in fragments after the Pessoa’s death. “Those who hope for nothing because it’s perfectly useless to hope”. Fernando Pessoa’s writing offers us an accepting that dreams needn’t be converted into achievement. So the piece consists of momentums of dreams, there is no interruption between the moments. In the
Book of DisquitePessoa says: «These are my Confessions and if I say nothing in them it’s because I have nothing to say.» I think it is very close to the concept of truth in the art which we try to define. Perhaps the nullity is a muse. The great truth the artist had to communicate in his writings was that nothing matters.“My soul is a hidden orchestra, I do not know what instruments, what violins and harps, drums and tambours sound and clash inside me. I know myself only as a symphony.”