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John Kameel Farah is a pianist and composer who shares his time between Berlin and Toronto. His work embraces aspects of early and contemporary music, improvisation, middle-eastern music and forms of electronic music.
Farah was born in Brampton, Ontario, to Palestinian parents who immigrated to Canada in the 1960s. He studied piano and composition at the University of Toronto, where he was a two-time recipient of the Glenn Gould Composition Award. After graduating, he took private lessons with minimalist composer Terry Riley in California, and focussed on performing 20th-century and contemporary music, as well as performing the complete solo piano works of Arnold Schönberg.
After many years playing in Toronto’s classical, jazz and experimental music scenes, he became fascinated with electronic dance music and started incorporating synthesizers, beats and samples into his work. In performance, he integrates the piano with synthesizers and computer effects processing and also incorporates elements of Middle Eastern tuning systems, scales and rhythms. He occasionally presents his side-project, “Music for Organ and Synthesizers,” looping and altering the pipe organ’s sound in combination with analog and digital synths in churches throughout Europe. While he primarily plays live solo concerts, he has lately taken to writing for larger ensembles, recently performing his own works with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.
John is also a visual artist, creating intricate line drawings with ink, which he sometimes incorporates into his performances in projected animations and slideshows.
Collaborations have included several scores for Canadian choreographer Peggy Baker, Berlin’s early music choir Vox Nostra, as well as with astrophysicist John Dubinski, composing for animations of galaxy formations and collisions. In 2009, he became a member of the Canadian Electronic Esemble. Farah has casually described to his musical approach as “Baroque-Middle-Eastern-Cyberpunk” in reference to the myriad of styles he draws upon.
THANK YOU TO OUR DONORS
The National Arts Centre Foundation would like to thank the RBC Foundation, Presenting Partner of the NAC Orchestra Mentorship Program. Thank you also to lead donor Dasha Shenkman, OBE, Hon RCM, and The Azrieli Foundation, The Crabtree Foundation, The Vered Family, and the Council for Canadian American Relations Young Artist Scholarship for their generous support.