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Award-winning Compositions &  Performances

As a classical pianist who grew up in the Middle East, my musical world was infused with versatile inputs. On one hand, practicing and refining for hours pieces by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, etc. while on the other, as a young child, listening to my grandmother sing Ladino romanceros and Turkish folk songs and hearing Arabic music on the radio. As a composer, I am interested in exploring the possible integration or fusion of those diverse musical worlds.

A painter paints pictures on canvas.

But musicians paint their pictures on silence”

                                                                             -  Leopold Stokowski

'Mirage' for Piano Solo,

Performed at the Petit Trianon in San Jose, California

2004 MTAC Composers Today State Contest, Division 8: First Prize

Composed in 2003 during the onset of the second war in Iraq, this essentially monothematic piece starts in a somber mood, yet at a seemingly peaceful pace of half notes in the left hand. The right hand melody couples the harmonic foundation with its air of eeriness. 


Gradually, the basic rhythmical values start to diminish through eighths, sixteenths and then sixteenth triplets to produce an ever increasing flow and while at first, a quasi-Romantic melody ensues, it quickly gives way to a



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jarring, syncopated disjunct version of the slow paced beginning chords. Further transformation of the pianistic texture leads to an “explosive” dotted rhythm climax reiterating repeatedly and violently the “peaceful” harmonic progression of the beginning. Eventually the storm subsides and a “bitter calm” achieved with warping of the initial harmonies is restored…

"'Mirage' is stirring and exhilarating.

 I was riveted at how it unfolded with evocative images and rhythms. 

Its expansive, compelling phrases are written brilliantly for the piano. 

Nurit Barlev’s playing is passionate, jazzy, and smart."

         - Jessica Krash, composer-pianist

Dorian Toccata for Piano Solo [Excerpt]

Performed at the MTAC Convention in Sacramento, California

2005 MTAC Composers Today State Contest, Division 8: First Prize

Composed in 2004, in this composition I set out to experiment with the low register of the piano and a feel of perpetual motion using seemingly shifting bar lines, irregular meters and varying phrase lengths.


It is based on but not limited to the use of the Dorian mode. The contrasting middle section is a respite from the forceful drive of the Toccata with lyrical quasi- improvisatory melodies hinting of the main Toccata motive in a ‘perdendosi’ (getting lost) manner until its final

Dorian Toccata

Dorian Toccata

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disintegration leading into the reprise of the rapid perpetual motion section. After getting increasingly entangled and climactic, the music resolves back into a short lyrical and peaceful ending.


Listen to the full piece here:

Dorian ToccataNurit Barlev
00:00 / 07:42

Eastern Fantasy for Flute and Piano

2009 MTAC Composers Today State Contest, Division 8: First Prize

Performed by Leslie Zieren, Flute; and Nurit Barlev, Piano

01 Eastern FantasyNurit Barlev
00:00 / 05:18

Composed in 2003, Eastern Fantasy is a composition in free form mirroring a cycle of life. The initial flute solo, “sprouts” from a fermata on the flute’s lowest note, Middle ‘C’ and a cadenza- like (unmetered) rising melody ends the introduction on yet another fermata. On the basis of unstable shifting meters and hemiolas, a dialogue between the piano and flute follows with themes associatively leading one into the next and with additional flute cadenzas interspersed within metered sections. Both the flute and the piano parts become increasingly virtuosic, leading to a climactic outburst after which both recede back to the point of origin.

 ”Nurit Barlev’s “Eastern Fantasy” for flute and piano, performed by Leslie Zieren, flute, and the composer at the piano, is a beautifully conceived composition which paints a colorful journey into the musical languages of the Middle Eastern/Western experience. A flute monologue o