Hussein's compositions explore the sonic intersections amonst peoples, the self, the Divine, nature, cities and spaces to understand ourselves differently and engage meaningfully in plural encounters. Hussein considers music compositions a pathway for inquiry, search and transformation. His compositions draw on life experiences and music from his own diverse background. Rooted in diverse sonic heritage he utilizes contemporary techniques to write music with universal appeal that all people, regardless of their backgrounds might be able to connect with. Hussein believes that it is through this connection that a common heart emerges awakening the possiblity of humanity mingling peacefully with each other and creation.
Hussein's professional work in music composition seeks to apply contemporary techniques to create a 'liminal space" where we can feel safe to mingle in each other's light; connect to our unifying human spirits; and find meaningful expression of the intersections of our diverse worlds. Specifically Hussein looks at sounds of the Muslim experience and how they find consonance and dissonance with sounds of everyday life. For example, the piece, Nur: Reflections on Light is a collection of miniatures and choral soundscapes exploring the ineffable nature of light. The music interweaves melodies from Ismaili Muslim mystical literature (ginans specifically), quranic recitation and classical Indian ragas into textures inspired by early and contemporary choral music. Hussein works to present the sonic experience of the Muslim world not as 'international food fair' style doses and tasters, but as viable, interesting, unique contemporary expressions which demonstrate the integral role we all play in shaping our worlds.
This programmatic pieces is based on an historic event in Mombasa, Kenya (1950) when a bus carrying 26 members of my mother Neena and my Aunty Kathun’s extended family, returning from a wedding of their older brother Jimmy to his bride Roshan, plunged off the Likoni Ferry into the Indian Ocean, taking the lives of 17 family members. My mother and aunty are the only living survivors.
In 2004 my work took me near the Likoni ferry site. My entire being shook with echoes of the accident. I felt and heard the screams, the panic, the sounds of the voices tapering off, the silence, the depths of the sea, the loss. The event's memory was in my cells. I reflected on how new generations could transform and heal intergenerational pain. Music seemed to be a powerful vehicle. Thus, the genesis of this piece.
This piece entitled The Wedding renders a celebratory Gujarati folk song Taaliyo na taale (commonly heard at weddings) that was sung on the bus before it plunged. The joyous music ends in suspended long tones that signal a powerful processional chant La illaha ilallah as recited at Ismaili funerals. Harmonies inspired by the chant cradle spiritually-inspired texts expressing the soul’s longing for unity with its maker. In humble submission, the soul is wedded with Allah (God) to Whom we belong and to Whom we shall return (Quran 2:156). Solace and comfort are gained through the knowledge that the souls of those who lost their lives are again joined with their Beloved in an abode of peace—a spiritual union.
I hope that this music will render healing inspiration even today as we contemplate our individual and collective healing especially from large-scale tragedies witnessed around the world.