Behzad Abdi’s opera Rumi was physically released by Naxos, “the world’s leading classical label,” on 8/10/2018.
The composer’s note on the piece reads:
Composing a traditional Iranian opera using the Iranian modal system, dastgāh, has always been my dream. I first approached this by composing an opera called Ashura followed by the operas Rumi (Molawi) and Hafez. I believe that in order to attract an international audience for Iranian opera, it is essential to fuse dastgāh with Western classical forms.
Rumi, which can be considered as the first national opera of Iran, is based on the life of the Sufi mystic and poet, Rumi, and the circumstances of his time, from when the Mongols invaded Persia, killing the Iranian poet Sheikh Attar, to his time in Konya and his life-changing meeting with Shams. However, the librettist and director, Behrouz Gharibpour, chose not to reflect the events directly, instead creating a symbolic libretto based on Rumi’s thoughts and words.
This redefinition and distancing from the historical narrative is considered to be the most significant point of the text in this opera, and was in fact the only way to grasp the latent meanings of Rumi’s words. The unifying message of the work—the promise of the ‘immortality of truth’—is repeated throughout the narrative. The audience is also exposed to various other stories along the way.
Those familiar with 13th-century Iranian literary texts know that due to the successive attacks of the Mongols and the reports of massacres, the Iranian people had turned to Sufism and nihilism. This is why there are sometimes contradictions in the realm of ideas from that era, which complicates understanding, for our generation, of the secrets that lie within the literature of that time.
The key to understanding Rumi’s poetry is its far-reaching look at human aspirations; the power that we call love and the temptations that take us away from false mundane charms and attractions (which Iranian mystics in many poems refer to as wisdom or common sense).
Rumi is based on Iranian dastgāh and is the first opera to use this traditional form. The work fuses Persian and Western classical music, which creates a unique timbre and harmonic colour. Iranian music may form the base of this work, but I was not unaware of modern Western music techniques, and unlike most Iranian symphonic music, it is not based on any specific ‘ism’ or school of thought, and in all parts of the opera, Western composition techniques are employed.
In Rumi, the use of the polytonal technique is not limited to the classical elements, and it is often heard in various dastgāh simultaneously—a technique that helps to reflect the unique concepts of the poetry, and one that was also used in the opera Ashura.
The text of this opera, which is set in 15 acts, is mainly based on Rumi’s writings with several parts taken from other poets. Rumi’s poetry is not distorted and the poems are read in their original form.
For the listener, especially those familiar with Rumi’s writing, what Gharibpour has done is astonishing and admirable. Due to his long-time involvement with these concepts and careful selection of Rumi’s texts, he has created one of the best and most important libretti among Iranian operas. Gharibpour not only considered Rumi’s literary and conceptual techniques but created an artistic mix of drama, history and literature. He was able to look at Rumi’s life and his eternal teachings from several aspects.
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From Past Days…
The 4th Iranian Festival of Music Websites and Weblogs was held in Niavaran Cultural Center, in Tehran, Iran on Feb. 28th, 2015. The initiator of the festival was Sajjad Pourghanad, Iranian music writer, researcher, founder of the festival and Persian setar and tar player.
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.
The “Pledge of Love” is the first album in a series composed based on the tasnifs by the renowned Iranian tasnif-maker Mohammad Ali Amir Jahed and recorded by Sahba Kohan Ensemble with Ramin Bahiraie as signer.
Joint application of the two techniques of “Lip” and “Nose” could be effectively applied for hearing and playing far-away intervals, by the Classical Guitar. Before this, a Classical Guitar player had to waive playing intervals not possible with the left hand, and had to replace or eliminate some notes, making it possible to play such intervals; specifically the capability of the left hand of the musician, was also a factor in such a selection. These methods are hereby illustrated by photographs and a video-file, in order to provide optimum comprehension of applying these methods, invented by the author; specifically the “Lip” technique, which is considered to be a more significant technique, emphasized by the author.
Shaahin Mohajeri, the award-winning Iranian microtonal compose, has contributed to The Art of Silence is an international project which features unpublished pieces by microtonal composers from Iran, Japan, the United States, and other countries.
Finding a way to harmonize the Iranian music has been the subject of controversy among Iranian musicians for a long time. Some believe in the creation of harmonies for Iranian music based on a method which is similar to the tierce harmony; while others have either selected or invented some other methods. There are also some musicians who do not basically agree with the harmonization of the Iranian music.
Establishing O.R.P. Quartet is Kayvan Mirhadi’s latest activity as a guitarist, composer and conductor of Kamerata Orchestra. Besides working with this Quartet, Mirhadi is busy these days recording and mixing some of his own works as well as some pieces by 20th century composers. O.R.P Quartet performed a concert in Rasht, Gilan Province in late May 2016 and offered a master class.
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.
Rouhollah Khaleghi was the master of composing beautiful melodies. He was the premier of the course of history which was first established by Ali Naghi Vaziri and which improved the Iranian music from simply a gathering music to the classical music of the country. First efforts to compose independent and instrumental music can be also traced in Khaleghi’s works.
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.