Faculty Spotlight: Kareem Roustom

Meet Kareem Roustom, Emmy-nominated composer and Tufts Music professor
Kareem Roustom

How did you find your area of focus within music?
Discovering music began around the age of 13. I was a late beginner and am mostly self-taught in all aspects of my music making.

How did you find yourself at Tufts? How many years have you been here?
I completed my MA in Ethnomusicology and Composition at Tufts in 2007 and have been here ever since.

What classes do you teach at Tufts?
In the past, I founded and directed the Arab Music Ensemble but now I focus on composition courses: Composition for film, Orchestration, Digital and Analog Music Notation. I also work with graduate student composers on their thesis, and with undergraduate composers on their senior projects.

How has your field changed during the course of your research?
The field of live music performance was greatly affected by the pandemic lockdown. As a composer, I am also part of that eco-system.  Everyone in that community is still trying to adapt to these seismic changes.

What projects are you working on at the moment?
For the next 18 months or so I am committed to a new work for choir, French horn and strings for Boston-based Coro Allegro, a 60 minute dance score for a company in London, a trumpet concerto for a soloist and orchestra in Germany, orchestrating about 60 minutes of orchestral music for a video game project recording session, as well as a new string orchestra work for Portland, Maine based Palaver Strings. I am also working on a non-commissioned and long-term project for string quartet called 'Syrian Folk Songs', which explores the many rural traditions that I am researching, as they are new to me. This summer, I recently completed and heard the premiere of my 'Syrian Folk Songs - Book 1.'

Are you involved in performance, teaching, or scholarship outside of Tufts? Do you play any additional instruments or sing?
Most of the music that I compose is performed outside of Tufts, but I am always grateful when my music is performed in Tufts' excellent Distler Hall. I do not teach anywhere else, I play the Oud (the fretless Arab lute),  and do a tiny bit of conducting when possible.

What are your hobbies or interests aside from the above?
I love to read and cook. Currently, I am reading the Andrea Camillieri 'Inspector Montalbano' series, which features mouthwatering descriptions of Sicilian food. I'm exploring some of those recipes... with mixed success.