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
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From Past Days…
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.
One of the most important criteria for measuring the quality of a piece of classical music is number of times the piece has been performance by different ensembles and orchestras in different eras. This belief has become so pervasive in some societies, such as Iranian society, that it is considered the only criterion for measuring the quality of a piece of classical music.
The year 1396 (21 March 2017-20 March 2018) was the most sorrowful year for HarmonyTalk journal. One month after holding HarmonyTalk’s 13th establishment anniversary in Mohsen Ghanebasiri’s house in Tehran in April 2017, he untimely passed away. Mohsen Ghanebasiri was the prominent HarmonyTalk author.
Maestro Hassan Nahid is one of the most prominent and distinctive artists who values high morals, discipline and hard work. His music activities include playing the Ney as both soloist and an accompaniment in the most important Iranian music orchestras and ensembles during the last fifty years, including the Orchestra of Iranian Instruments (Nusratullah Golpayegani), the Orchestra of National Instrumentalists of the Ministry of Culture and Arts (Payvar Orchestra), the Orchestra of Iranian Instruments (Morteza Hananeh) , Darvish Orchestra, Samaie Orchestra, Roudaki Orchestra, Maestros’ Ensemble, Aref Ensemble, as well as performances in various radio programs, many concerts in different countries, as well as a long teaching experience in the National Conservatory of Music, music universities and other music institutions to name but a few.
The life territory of the female-male relations in the Iranian cultural context is basically a domestic territory and not a social-living one in the labour and leisure domains. To prove this, it only suffices to consider the Iranian men’s viewpoints about women. For the Iranian men, there are three perspectives regarding the women: mother, sister and wife. Mother represents the emotional territory; sister represents the logical territory at home while wife represents the sexual territory.
In addition to the above-mentioned, polyphony can be also formed when a melody is performed by several singers in different ambiances or different sound registers according to their physiologic abilities. An example of this has been performed in rituals of Khanqah of Ghaderi darawish of Mahabad[i].
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.
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.
Translated by Mahboube Khalvati The article you are about to read was written by Rouhollah Khaleqi (1906-1965), composer, and conductor of Golha Orchestra (established in 1956). Khaleqi was one of the most prominent promoters of polyphony for the Iranian music and is one of the best representatives of the school of Ali Naghi Vaziri. In…
April 6 marks the anniversary of launching HarmonyTalk.com. Back in 2004, HarmonyTalk was rather a blog dedicated to music. Gradually, however, it found its way to becoming a more sophisticated journal with an intensive but not exclusive concentration on classical music.