John Kameel Farah is a composer, pianist and visual artist based between Toronto and Berlin. He studied composition and piano performance at the University of Toronto, where he received the Glenn Gould Composition Award twice during his studies. In 1999 he had private lessons with Terry Riley in California, and later at the Arabic Music Retreat in Hartford.
Farah now focuses primarily on his own creative hybrid of improvisation, composition and electronic music. Simultaneously using piano, synthesizer, computer, and at times harpsichord and organ, his solo performances exist between the worlds of the concert pianist and the electronic producer, combining elements of free improvisation, jazz, electro–acoustics, middle-eastern modes and rhythms and ambient minimalism.
Farah’s music draws upon an interest in astronomy, history, mythology and painting. As a visual artist, his intricate ink drawings have been presented at solo and group exhibitions. He has composed extensively for solo piano, as well as for string quartet, percussion groups and chamber ensembles.
Farah performs regularly in both Toronto and Berlin, and has toured internationally across the U.K., Europe, USA, Canada, the Middle–East, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico. In 1999 and 2002, he visited the Edward Said National Conservatory, giving performances and masterclasses in the West Bank. In 1998, he performed the complete solo piano works of Arnold Schoenberg in Toronto, and more recently, the first book of Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier” in Berlin. In 2006 Toronto’s NOW Magazine named him ‘Best Pianist’ and in 2011 he received the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Music from the Ontario Arts Council. In 2016 he received a Dora Mavor Moore Award from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts for his work with Peggy Baker Dance Projects.
His first album, “Creation” was a compilation of electronic tracks connected by piano and harpsichord interludes. His second album, “Unfolding” (Dross:tik Records 2009), a 2011 piano-duo album with pianist Attila Fias, followed by “Between Carthage and Rome” released in 2015. He is a member of the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, as well as pianist-composer for Peggy Baker Dance Projects, and was the Electronic-Composer-in-Residence for Soundstreams Canada for 2013. His newest release, “Time Sketches”, is now released on the German label Neue Meister/Edel Kultur.
“Behind a stage set up that can include piano, Baroque harpsichords, various synthesizers, and laptop computers, John Kameel Farah cuts an impressive and unforgettable figure in solo performance. As such diverse instrumentation readily suggests, Farah is interested in working in a wide open creative field through which he can combine, juxtapose, and transform the musics that interest him most: Early and Baroque keyboard music, ambient minimalism, Middle-Eastern music, Electronic Dance Music, and electroacoustics.
“In performance, Farah ranges all over his instruments while setting up textures and countertextures, moving deftly from acoustic to electronic episodes, and testing and deploying his materials with a mixture of scientific care and wild abandon. Improvisation is a key working method, both at his various keyboards and in the execution of electronic beats and processes that are equally at the core of his approach.
“Frenetic and contemplative in turn, Farah’s music is underpinned by a deep emotional and spiritual reservoir which, when framed through his exceptional musicality and virtuosic instrumental command, packs his highly original solo music with considerable and undeniable clout.”
-Guelph Jazz Festival
“…a force connected to the living, breathing, cutting edge of music.
It’s a crazy mix. But it has the power to mesmerize even listeners who have no idea about the complex theories behind how these sound waves came to be.”
John works with Annette Gentz Music Arts, based in Berlin.