The National Instruments Orchestra of Iran performed its first concert amid much hope and anxiety on July 18, 2015. The Orchestra is founded by Roudaki Cultural and Arts Foundation which is a semi-private foundation in Iran. The Arts Director for the National Instruments Orchestra of Iran is Ali (Alexander) Rahbari and the Orchestra Executive Director is Sadjad Pourghand.
The National Instruments Orchestra of Iran can be considered as an evolution upon Faramarz Payvar’s Orchestra, established in 1968, and the Plectrum Orchestra which was founded by Hossein Dehlavi in 1993. The feature which these three orchestras share with each other is the support they received from state organizations.
One of the most significant orchestras on such a large scale, as the National Instruments Orchestra of Iran, was Simorq Orchestra founded by Hamid Motebassem an Iranian composer and Tar and Setar player. Simorq Orchestra, a private one, could stage several performances in Iran and even embarked on a concert tour in Europe. Hamid Motebassem also served as the concert soloist for his own piece entitled “Vanoosheh.”
Hossein Alishapour and Vahid Taj were the concert singers whose performance drew the audience’s admiration.
The National Instruments Orchestra of Iran includes both plucked, bowed, wind and percussion instruments: Tar, Bam Tar, Setar, Santour, Qanoon, Oud, Kamancheh, Gheichak, Bass Gheichak, Alto Gheichak, Ney, Dayereh, Daf, Tonbak.
The Orchestra was conducted by Iranian conductor Esmaeel Tehrani. Tehrani who is in his late 60s was born in Tehran and is a graduate from National Music Conservatory of Iran. He plays santour and is a composer as well.
The concert repertory included compositions by five generations of composers who follow Ali Naghi Vaziri’s school of thought. One of the most prominent composers of Vaziri’s school of though is Hossein Dehlavi. For this reason, the concert was opened with Dehlavi’s “Nokhost Golbang-e Mezrabi (for plectrum orchestra)” as a tribute to the composer.
Given the disputable belief that the Iranian classical music is unison by nature, the National Instruments Orchestra of Iran was convened to perform polyphonic Iranian pieces composed for all the above-mentioned Iranian instruments.
The concert brochure reads:
Based on ethnomusicological evidences, Iran is one of the few countries which possess national classical music. In all the years that the Iranian classical music has been developing in terms of performing and composing techniques, need for a state-owned orchestra which would be capable of performing polyphonic Iranian music was highlighted.
However, the issue was never addressed in a sustainable manner. In other words, orchestras which were established for performing the Iranian classical music had brief existences due to different problems such as budget shortage, lack of state support.
One of the challenges this orchestra is dealing with is the lack of pieces composed for an orchestra with such a capability in terms of versatility and inclusiveness of Iranian musical instruments as an instance.
Although the National Instruments Orchestra of Iran still has to walk a long way to attract its audience from the public, its goal and path is well understood and appreciated among the majority of the Iranian musicians including those who deny it
- Gholam Reza Khan Minbashian: a pioneer in Iranian music (I)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (VI)
- Prominent Iranian Musicologist Passes Away in Vienna
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (V)
- Violin’s inner mold, an essential factor in developing the idea of violin
- Three singers in one larynx
- Avaye Naerika Percussion Orchestra
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (IV)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (III)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (II)
- Polyphony in Iranian Music (I)
- Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos
From Past Days…
It is more than a century now that the sociologists consider the presence of women in different social domains as a benchmark for a society’s progress. They analyze the presence of women in society by the means of available statistics. Unfortunately, as with regard to the Iranian society, statistics related to women’s engagement, has not been available to the researchers, if they existed at all.
Iranian pianist Layla Ramezan has always sought to create a connection between her Persian origin and the contemporary music which she encounters daily. Sound, phrasing, a particular sense of rhythm and a refined understanding of the “time of musical development” are the foremost qualities of her interpretations. Her musical and pianistic education began in Tehran at the age of 8 with Mostafa-Kamal Poortorab. Having moved to Paris and received a scholarship from Albert Roussel Foundation, she integrated the classes of Jean Micault and Devi Erlih at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot, where she received a Diplôme de Virtuosité in piano performance and chamber music.
UnTwelve Non-profit Organization announced the results of its 2014/2015 composition competition on January 28, 2015. Shaahin Mohajeri, an Iranian Tonbak player, microtonalist, acoustician and composer, was awarded the second prize for his piece “Castle of Babak.”
Simorgh (Simorq) Orchestra was founded by the renowned Iranian composer, Hamid Motebassem, in 2011. Simorgh Orchestra is the largest orchestra featuring Iranian national instruments. Although the orchestra established by Master Hossein Dehlavi, the great Iranian composer, in 1993 was larger than Simorgh Orchestra, it only featured the Iranian plucked string instruments unlike the latter one. The first album which was recorded by the Orchestra, conducted under Motebassem’s baton, was his Simorq based on Zal story from Shahnameh by Ferdowsi, the great Iranian poet.
The author of the “Illusion or Ingenuity” article, who is apprehensive of the future of the Music in Iran, enumerates some symptoms of the music weakening in the country for example decreasing in the quality of the music as well as lack of the innovation in creating them, a gradual decline in the music public taste and the drop in the application of layered sound and polyphony in music. He explains that one reason for this gradual weakening might be our unawareness of the fact that we are not so intelligent nation. He believes that we, Iranians, have a comprehensive “Illusion of the high national intelligence “that make us ignorant of the unfavorable realities of our music and consequently no searching for the remedy is taking place. His point of view brings to the mind a patient who thinks he is healthy, therefore delays the treatment and finally is killed by the disease. The author also refers to the national difficulties which gradually will lower the national intelligence score such as the increased rate of the immigration and brain drain, low quality of the nutrition, incompetence of the education system and etc and predicts that the condition of the music of Iran might deteriorate in the future because of the mentioned illusion of its great status.
In heterophonic variant, two performers perform a single melody simultaneously and change it. Performing and changing a single melody simultaneously by two performers leads to the coincidence of different voices.
In the world music culture, there are instruments which were traditionally associated with a certain gender. It remains disputable to what extent these gender-based perceptions have been logical and scientific. For example, as playing wind instruments need more breath strength and the public opinion believe that men have stronger breath compared to women, these instruments are predominantly a male domain. Harp is also considered a female instrument as the public opinion believe that women have finer fingers and can therefore better perform nuances and delicate techniques on the instrument.
One of the most popular terms used by Iranian instrumentalists is the existence or a lack of musical “sense”. Both musicians and fans of music consider having “sense” while playing music as an important principle to the extent that they use it vis-a-vis having technique.
Antonio Stradivari (1644 – 18 December 1737) was an Italian luthier and is considered the most significant and greatest artisan in this field.
Developments in Composing
Along with developments in the Iranian instruments, composition of the Iranian pieces developed as well. As a matter of fact, the developments of the two, mutually affected each other. In other words, instrumental developments led to developments in composition and vice versa.