Thomas Hornig

Thomas Hornig

« Au fil des ans, je me suis considéré comme extrêmement chanceux d'avoir été au bon endroit et au bon moment à Beyrouth en tant que "saxophoniste américain". Pourtant, ce n'est qu'après une récente conversation avec ma fille que j'ai finalement réalisé la probabilité que j'aurai collaboré et joué avec plus de musiciens de la région que tout autre musicien occidental dans l'histoire récente". Thomas Hornig

« Over the years, I have considered myself extremely lucky to have been in the right place and at the right time in Beirut as the 'American Saxophonist'. Still, it was only following a recent conversation with my daughter that I finally realized the probability that I will have collaborated and performed with more musicians from the region than any other Western musician in recent history.» Thomas Hornig

« Following Jazz studies at the University of Minnesota, service as a musician in the US Army, Berlin, and four years of study with professor Alain Bouhey at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris, I became the first American to move to Lebanon and ended up breaking the US embargo.

My Lebanese fiancée was determined, like many Lebanese youth, to be a part of Lebanon’s re-birth after the long civil war. Hired by Dr. Walid Gholmieh to teach at the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music, I eventually became the principal saxophonist for the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, performing with a long list of guest conductors.

My appearances have been serious and demanding. Needless to say, I took great pride in performing in works such as Bizet’s L'Arlésienne and Rachmaninoffs Symphonic Dances. To date, the LPO has called on me over thirty times and I always considered it to be an extremely rare privilege to sit in the heart of an orchestra. At one point, I was even invited to perform The Old Castle with the visiting Kirov Orchestra directed by Valery Gergiev.

Other indelible moments include performances with distinguished artists like Julia Boutros, Omayama Khalil, Charbel Rouhana, Oussama Rahbani, Hiba Tawaji, Ghassan Rahbani, Ziad Rahbani, Nareg Abajian, Yarub Smarait, Tarek Yamani, Arthur Satyan and Anthony Touma sometimes in front of massive audiences at the Roman ruins of Carthage, Baalbek, Busra and Tyre, Beaufort Castle Latakia, Syria, at the Byblos, Beit Eddine, and Cedar Festivals, and throughout the Middle East North Africa region and Europe.

Some ideas that came to fruition...

Introduced to the head of Solidere in 1997, I was asked to produce the first ever jazz festival in the newly rebuilt Beirut City Center in 1997. Following the direct intervention of the French Ambassador, Patrice Paoli, a charity performance at the French Ambassador’s residence in Beirut, which earned $200,000 for palliative care, was offered by the National Conservatory Big Band.

Still not yet legally visible under Lebanon’s archaic nationality and sponsorship laws, I have, proudly, been at the forefront of individual, unpaid social activism in Beirut for two decades including among many other activities the production of a song about Lebanese Nationality featuring Charbel Rouhana with lyrics by Rabih Mroué.  Extensive campaigning culminating in an audience with Lebanon's Minister of State in 2010 resulted in a cabinet vote to give permanent residency to husbands and children of 77,000 Lebanese women and I am currently campaigning for the right to quality health care for migrant workers in Lebanon.

But perhaps one of my proudest achievements over the years was a production, two and a half years in the making, which featured Charbel Rouhana (Oud), Grammy-winning arrangers and the LHNCM Big Band. Featured on Al Jazeera, this performance was the first time in history that the Oud (oriental lute) was featured with a big band for a full concert. My work with the Lebanese Conservatory faculty big band lasted 10 years during which I was often responsible for creating opportunities to perform at gala events and music festivals.

Currently, I am hoping to be able to publish three albums which are recorded but not mixed/mastered; one recorded in NYC featuring Amadis Dunkel, Hyuna Park, the late Jeff Andrews and Ben Perowski, and two albums recorded live inside the office of the French Ambassador’s residence in Beirut. »