An Uzbek Tatar woman from Kazan included in the list of "21 for ’21"

How Adeliia Faizullina becomes a promising Tatar composer in the United States

An Uzbek Tatar woman from Kazan included in the list of
Photo: Leysan Gilyazova /

The Washington Post, largest newspaper in the US capital, published the article "21 for ’21: Composers and performers who sound like tomorrow”. Сomposer from Kazan, now American, Adeliia Faizullina, has also been included in this top of musicians. Realnoe Vremya tells about the talented Tatar woman, whom the Western listener fell in love with.

Uzbekistan — Tatarstan — US

“As I am visually-impaired, sounds show me my environment”, the Washington Post quotes composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Adeliia Faizullina in the notes to Bolghar, a shimmering orchestral work centered on the quray (a Tatar folk instrument akin to a penny whistle).

This musical environment, it turns out, is vast and varied, encompassing memory and imagination — as showcased in “Drops and Ripples”, her elastic and evocative contribution to Tesla Quartet’s Alternating Currents series, or her own four-movement suite of “Tatar Folk Tales”.

“We have to take care of our heritage for the future”, Faizullina writes. “We never know what’s going to happen”.

Curiously, “Drops and Ripples” was born as part of a project in which composers were asked to write small pieces during the pandemic, using a fragment of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 5. Each piece here is a “drop” from the violin and a “ripple” from the quartet.

“The world of music and composition gives me the opportunity to represent colours”

Adeliia Faizullina is 32 years old, she is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, in particular, plays the Tatar quray. She was born in Uzbekistan, and moved to Kazan at the age of six, where her grandmother sang her prayers. As she admits, a big problem for her is the inability to read the notes herself. At the age of 10, she won the competition for disabled children of the Republic of Tatarstan as a pianist, at the age of 15, she won the Zhiganov Piano Competition.

Faizullina points out in her biography that as a composer, she is inspired by the music and poetry of Tatar folklore.

She attended the Aukhadeev College, then went to the Gnesin Academy, and later to the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California. She is an assistant composer at the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy and a Cynthia Jackson Ford fellow. Her music was played by violinist Jennifer Ko, Tesla Quartet, and the Metropolis ensemble. In 2019, she won the Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia competition and performed with the local orchestra in 2020. She also won, for example, in the competition of young composers on the radio Orpheus in Moscow. In Kazan, her music was played, in particular, by the State String Quartet of the Republic of Tatarstan.

At the same time, news about the composer ends in 2014 — this, for example, is a performance at the social and cultural forum The Art of Good within the framework of the Decade of the Disabled, which was held for the blind Kazan residents. As a vocalist, Adeliia herself voiced her works — Tatar Folk Tales, Soo Anaso (Mermaid), Strain to Shine. As a singer and composer, she actively participated in the events of the All-Russian Society for the Blind.

Also on the Internet, you can find her detailed interview for the website I Care If You Listen. As part of the Turning Up the Volume series, the site talks to promising representatives of American classical music.

“I'm blind, but the world of music and composition gives me the opportunity to represent colours”, — says Faizullina. “It gives me the opportunity to experiment with musical inflections, to create a space of sounds and the volume of musical forms, drawing musical landscapes of nature using the timbres of instruments and human voices. I like the freedom that music gives me. I am interested in mixing Tatar folk traditions and poetry with Western modern music, experimenting with advanced instrumental techniques, overtones, and the sound of instruments”.

By Radif Kashapov