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Scheherazade, the story-telling Arabian queen from "One Thousand and One Nights," has captured the Western artistic imagination for centuries. In her latest incarnation, she is depicted by a violin as an empowered yet persecuted modern woman. John Adams, one of the leading contemporary U.S. composers, has created a new Scheherazade, who is pursued by religious fanatics in the turmoil of the Arab Spring, in a work that premiered last week at the New York Philharmonic.Adams called his 40-minute work a dramatic symphony – the term coined by Berlioz for an orchestra pushing the boundaries of narrative – and the violin expresses the full range of emotion of Scheherazade.It is difficult to cast Adams as a simple neo-Orientalist.In the program notes, Adams said that a Scheherazade of modern times could be the "woman in the blue bra" who was infamously beaten in Egypt's Tahrir Square or, outside the Arab world, Iranian student Neda Agha-Soltan who died in 2009 opposition protests.
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