Mike Khoury is an
Palestinaian-American composer, improviser, and curator focused on performance
Khoury has worked to establish an Arab-American avant-garde and document the movement's intellectual heritage through
presenting his own work, publishing on the topic, and presenting other artists’ work. As a curator, Khoury has engaged in community
building through his curation of the Entropy Studios space and the Entropy Stereo record label issuing music from artists such as
Faruq Z. Bey, Wendell Harrison, Bobby Bradford and Griot Galaxy.
Khoury has performed
across North America, in Europe and the Arab World. In 2018, Khoury was awarded
a Knight Arts Challenge
Grant to create new work. In 2020, Khoury was named a Kresge Arts in Detroit fellow.
Today, Khoury conducts
both ethnographical, sonic and historical research from his laboratory and
studios in Redford, MI.
He has authored a chapter on the composer Halim El-Dabh published in an anthology on the Arab Avant Garde by Wesleyan
University Press. Khoury also divides his time between his improvisational work and the Redford Civic Symphony Orchestra,
of which he is a member of the first violin section. Current active projects include the ensemble Inscribe, a duet with percussionist
Ben Hall, a duet with dancer/choreographer Leyya Tawil, and his work as a studio and live musician.
I am an experimental
composer, violinist/violist, and improviser deeply influenced by the Detroit
musical traditions. Inspired by my culture as an Arab-American, I center my work as an experimental composer with that
of the Arab-American community. Trained as an Economist, I apply quantitative approaches from Econometrics to my work
as a musician, using strategies to analyze outcomes in compositional and performance settings.
My process involves a series of etudes I’ve developed to help one solve problems encountered in improvisation. The solutions
include those of endurance, theme development and the degree of correlation between performers. These techniques have been
derived from quantitative methods in Econometrics. I invoke them as a means of building compositions or refining improvisatory
For example, I’ve applied the concept of Orthogonality, the statistical degree of correlation between activities, to my approach
to composition and improvisation. I’ve found a confluence between this mathematical approach and my Arab Heritage.
I’ve incorporated tape loops into my work drawing modern sonic analogs to ancient Islamic concepts in art where patterns
have neither a beginning nor end, but imply movement and motion. The Arab experience is vital to me as an first generation
Arab-American living in one of the most concentrated Arab populations outside of the Arab world.
In working with Palestinian-American choreographer/organizer Leyya Tawil, I’ve presented work locally and internationally
in conversation with traditional folk concerns, political identity, and the Arab avant-garde.
Detroit serves as
a key inspiration for me as a composer. As a Detroit organizer/curator, I've
been fortunate enough to present
the live or recorded music of Griot Galaxy, Black Merda, Jamie Easter, Wendell Harrison, Ben Miller and Cary Loren of Destroy
All Monsters. My curation functions through the Entropy Stereo record label and the Entropy Studios performance space and
utilizes my work as a punk rock promoter in my teens which then became labor organizing while working on a PhD in Economics.
Between 2016-18, I
presented new work in New York City, Berlin, San Francisco and Beirut, helping
to create new conditions
under which an Arab-American avant garde is produced and exists as an artistic and intellectual heritage. In 2018, I received
a grant from the Knight Foundation to present a new work to tell the story of the Palestinian diaspora.
1999 Audio Obstacle
Course (Livonia, MI)
2000 Ford Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival (Detroit, MI)
2000 Spirits Rejoice Festival of Improvised Music (Dearborn, MI)
2003 Big Sur Experimental Music Festival (Big Sur, CA)
2004 Spirits Rejoice Festival of Improvised Music (Dearborn, MI)
2006 EdgeFest (Ann Arbor, MI)
2007 Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI)
2008 Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI)
2011 Art on the Fly Festival (Seattle, WA)
2011 River Raisin Festival (Blissfield, MI)
2013 DIWAN (Dearborn, MI)
2015 DIWAN 6 (Dearborn, MI)
2015 Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI)
2016 Sol of the Lost Tamarack Festival (Wolverine, MI)
2016 After the Last Sky Festival (Berlin, Germany)
2018 Irtijal (Beirut, Lebanon)
2018 Motor City Muscle Festival
2018 Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI)
2019 Fusebox Festival
2021 SoundScene Festival (Washington DC)
2023 Unrecordables 4 Festival (Detroit, MI)