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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- Loss of Development in Iranian Music
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- Interview with Farhad Poupel (II)
- Interview with Farhad Poupel (I)
- About Davoud Pirnia, the founder of “Golha” radio program
- Rouhollah Khaleghi Artistic Center established in Washington DC
- Ruggero Chiesa’s Legacy
- The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (VII)
- The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (VI)
- The Structure of Kurdistan Daf (V)
From Past Days…
While the name “Persia” (Western historical name of Iran) has attracted tens of thousands of people from around the world to London’s British Museum to visit ancient Persian artifacts, the Nuremberg-based music company, Colosseum, invites Europeans to listen to eight masterpieces of Persian symphonic music.
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.
Tehran Flute Choir was established in 1394 (late 2015) by Firouzeh Navai. Tehran Flute Choir, Iran’s first largest flute choir, recruited its members mostly from young talented flutists of Iranian Flute Association. Featuring piccolo, flute, alto flute and bass flute, Tehran Flute Choir, directed by Firouzeh Navai, premiered under the batons of Saeed Taghadosi on January 7-8, 2016 at Roudaki Hall in Tehran.
Today, percussion instruments have such a high place in music that are an essential element of orchestras. This has attracted many people to this type of instrument with roots as old as the first humans. A historical study of music, shows that humans used the sound of these instruments to defend themselves against wild animals and, over time, for alerting each other, signaling their readiness and encouraging people for war, ritual ceremonies, dances, etc. in a manner that is still clearly visible in music and some ritual ceremonies.
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.
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.
Persian Set: Four Movements for chamber orchestra: Moderato; Allegretto; Lento; Rondo
Henry Cowell, one of the most innovative American composers of the 20th century, was born in 1897. Cowell and his wife visited Iran in 1956 and stayed there the whole winter, upon the invitation by the Iranian Royal Family, when he composed his album “Persian Set” in four movements for chamber orchestra. His composition is expressive of the characteristic quality of the Persian or the Iranian music.
Tajvidi thought of studying harmony and orchestration with Houshang Ostvar (who was eight years younger than him) at a time when he had gained a reputation among musicians. His humbleness, making him willing to kneel before the scholars at any age and position, became the key to his scientific success. After this period, Tajvidi made some of his works polyphonic, the most prominent of which is “Burn” set to a poem by Abdullah Ulfat. However, his ability to make his works polyphonic was not so great to make him self-sufficient; so he depended on musicians such as Farhad Fakhreddini, Fereydoun Naseri, Kambiz Roshanravan, Fereydoun Shahbazian and Morteza Hananeh for the arrangement of his compositions.
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.
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.