Composers Festival spotlight: Karim Sulayman

The Mizzou New Music Initiative will welcome tenor Karim Sulayman as a guest performer for the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

Sulayman (pictured) will appear with resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound when they premiere the first part of distinguished guest composer David T. Little’s monodrama “What Belongs to You” as part of the “World Premieres I” online concert on Tuesday, July 27.

The winner of the 2019 GRAMMY® Award for “Best Classical Solo Vocal,” Sulayman has earned international acclaim for his programming and recording projects, while regularly performing around the world in opera, orchestral concerts, recital and chamber music.

A native of Chicago, Sulayman studied violin as a child and teenager, and also sang with the Chicago Children’s Choir, which led to him being hand selected by Sir Georg Solti and Leonard Slatkin to be a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony. He went on to graduate from the Eastman School of Music and later earned a Masters degree from Rice University.

Sulayman has released two solo albums on the AVIE label. The first, “Songs of Orpheus,” earned international acclaim and won the 2019 GRAMMY® Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. His second solo album “Where Only Stars Can Hear Us” was released in March 2020 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical Chart.

Described as “a dedicated chamber musician,” Sulayman has been a frequent participant at the Marlboro Music Festival and has been presented by many of the world’s leading chamber music festivals. His concerts and recordings have been broadcast nationally and internationally on NPR, American Public Media, BBC Radio 3, and WDR 3.

Sulayman has appeared with New York City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater, as well as with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, and National Symphony Orchestras. He has performed at Elbphilharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, International Bach Festival and many other prestigious festivals and venues, collaborating with conductors including Harry Bicket, Marin Alsop, Osmo Vänskä, Helmuth Rilling, Jane Glover, Yves Abel and Robert Spano.

Recent projects include performing chamber music by Hahn and Vaughan Williams with the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective in June 2021 with Britten-Pears Arts at Snape Maltings in the UK; and reprising his performances of Frank London’s “Ghetto Songs” on tour this month in Germany. He’ll continue the 2021-22 season with with a role in a new multimedia production of Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw” in Miami, and performing Handel’s “Messiah” and Haydn’s “Creation” with the Winston-Salem Symphony. In May 2022, Sulayman will make his Carnegie Hall solo recital debut in an original program of Schubert songs, “Where Only Stars Can Hear Us.”

For more about Karim Sulayman, listen to his extended interview from January of this year on the “Unequal Temperament” podcast. You can see samples of his performances on his YouTube channel and in the embedded video windows below.

“Li Beirut” by- Fairuz, arranged by Matthew Duvall and Lisa Kaplan and performed by Karim Sulayman, Matthew Duvall (marimba) and Lisa Kaplan (glockenspiel) on October 20, 2020 for Chicago Artists Workshop (CAW) by Eighth Blackbird.

“L’énamourée” by Reynaldo Hahn in an arrangement by Tom Poster for the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective, recorded live in November 2020 at the Wiltshire Music Centre in the UK.

“Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon” by Francis Poulenc, performed by Karim Sulayman, Matthew Duvall (marimba) and Lisa Kaplan (glockenspiel) on October 20, 2020 for Chicago Artists Workshop (CAW) by Eighth Blackbird.