"...[Alma Mater]...a 'major work,' music of substantial stature and beauty."
Leslie Bassett, Pulitzer for Music, 1966
"it was with extraordinary pleasure that I have heard some of the works of Mr. Howrani. They are fresh, piquant, inventive and entirely appropriate for the dramatic manuscript for which they were written."
Joseph Eger, conductor, Symphony of the United Nations
"We are familiar with his talents and his humor. But there is also the unforeseeable side to his programs which delights listeners."
"...Piano wizard/composer Waleed Howrani was discovered by Armenian composer Aram Khatchaturian and went on to become an internationally touring concert artist in the 70s. Alma Mater, which takes its name from the album's theme and variations he composed for the American University of Beirut, is truly a winner. Howrani's compositions are an eclectic mix of styles. His Alma Mater reflects Russian, Mideastern, contemporary European, and ragime flavors with a bright splash of boogie-woogie thrown in for good measure. Frequently, theme and variations display a degree of banality in the composer's efforts to use every technique possible -- not so with Howrani's work. The piece is tightly-knit, sophisticated in compositional technique, and appealing to the listener.
What stands out in Howrani's playing is his superb mastery of piano technique, through which a passionate sense of line and musicianship always shines. In addition to his own Alma Mater, he offers the listener Beethoven's Sonata Op. 31, No. 3 in E Flat Major, the bravura-laden Polonaise in F Sharp Minor of Chopin, Cordoba by Albeniz, and Debussy's Children's Corner. All are flawlessly executed, with an underlying excitement particularly evident in the staccato and arpeggio passages of the Beethoven.
Although Howrani's dazzling technique is particuarly well-suited for large, note-filled works, Children's Corner absolutely shimmers under his masterful hands.
...Alma Mater is sure to please the discerning listener and lover of piano music.
Jeannette Luton-Faber, CURRENT Magazine
Biography of WALEED HOWRANI
Howrani was born in New York in 1948 and lived in Lebanon for a few years where he studied piano with Sonia Aharonian and Zvart Sarkissian. At age six he performed in public for the first time. Seven years later he was discovered by the late composer Aram Khatchatourian who recognized his potential and arranged for a ten-year full scholarship at the renowned Central Music School and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. During that time, Howrani spent three years under the tutelage of Emil Gilels and became a Laureate in the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium Piano Competition. Thus followed a decades-long career performing internationally, receiving numerous honors along the way.
Later, Howrani pursued his lifelong passion for composing by studying with William Albright (1944-1998) who once observed: "Waleed is one of the great pianists that I have heard...As a composer...he has great imagination, a high level of technique, and a rich body of influences, including his knowledge of Middle Eastern music."
Howrani has since received several awards for his works - among them are the Creative Artist grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts, the Lebanese Medal of Cedar, the Khalil Gibran Fine Arts Scholar award, and most recently, the Medal of Excellence in Music from the Makhzoumi Foundation.
In 2002, his Introduction and Firedance won first prize in the Youse Adult Composers contest, sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Sonata in E flat major, Op. 31, No. 3 - Allegro -- Beethoven
2. Scherzo: Allegretto vivace
3. Menuetto: Moderato e grazioso
4. Presto con Fuoco
5. Polonaise in F sharp minor, Op. 44 -- Chopin
6. Cordoba -- Albeniz
7. Children's Corner - Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum -- Debussy
8. The Elephant's Lullaby
9. Serenade for the Doll
10. The Snow Is Dancing
11. The Little Shepherd
12. Golliwogg's Cake Walk
13. Alma Mater (Variations on the AUB anthem) -- Howrani
14. Dizzy Fingers (hidden track) -- Confrey