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Sami Seif

2023 Honorable John Eaton Memorial Competition

SAMI SEIF (b. 1998) is a Lebanese composer and music theorist praised as “a distinctive compositional voice” who creates “intoxicating and fascinating soundworld[s]” (Carla Rees, Pan Journal of the British Flute Society). His music is inspired by the aesthetics, philosophies, paradigms and poetry of his Middle-Eastern heritage. His work has been described as “very tasteful and flavorful” with “beautiful, sensitive writing!” (Webster University Young Composers Competition). His latest musical concerns center around the phenomenology of time and of differing degrees of focus.

A passionate and enthusiastic collaborator, Seif has worked with numerous renowned musicians. Previous and upcoming collaborators include Mary Kay Fink and Stanley Konopka of The Cleveland Orchestra, Vinay Parameswaran, Carla Rees, Marcelo Lehninger, Prague Modern Ensemble, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Odin Quartet, TEMPO Ensemble, Juan Riveros, Ensemble 126, Drew Hosler, Dustin White, and Lana Stafford, among others. Seif’s music has been recognized internationally by various institutions such as ASCAP, SOCAN, the RED NOTE New Music Festival, the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York, the Stamford Music and Arts Academy, the Foundation for Modern Music, the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs, the Cleveland Composer’s Guild, the Arizona Flute Society, Webster University, Abundant Silence, and Warren County Summer Music School, among others. Additionally, he was selected as a finalist for the 2019 Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra call for scores from a pool of more than 2200 applicants from more than 90 countries. In 2020, he was selected again from a larger pool of almost 8000 applicants.

Originally from the small town of Ashkout in Mount Lebanon, he was born to a non-musical family in Abu Dhabi and he is fluent in Arabic, French and English. He started out at the age of twelve as a self-taught musician, composing and playing on special, Arabic keyboards designed to accommodate the microtones of Arabic music. Not having had access to formal music education, Seif taught himself how to read and write music by reading theory textbooks. He later formally studied piano, composition, audio engineering, and sound synthesis.

Seif completed his BM, double-majoring in composition and music theory at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where, he was honored with the Donald Erb prize in composition and the Beth Pearce Nelson award in music theory upon graduation. He is currently a doctoral fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center, studying with David Schober and Bruce Saylor. His former teachers include Julia Victorivna Podsekaeva (composition and piano), Roger Bergs (composition), Alan Reese (music theory), and Gerardo Teissonnière (piano).

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