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Explore the exotic world of Persian music through Iranian instruments
Embark on a journey back to the cradles of ancient civilisations
In the eclectic musical universe of Ensemble Kamaan, borders are abolished to make way for a bewitching alchemy through the mystical conversation between Amir Amiri’s santūr, Showan Tavakol’s kamāncheh, Behnaz Sohrabi’s rabab and Olivier Marin's viola. Drawing on the diversity of Persian melodies, these four virtuosi venture into innovative territory, aspiring to universal connection.
It is in this perspective that they invite whirling dervish Shraddha Blaney into this project. Through the trance of her whirling, Shraddha Blaney traces the paths that lead to the Divine. Performing the ritual of rotation to become aligned with cosmic motion, a dervish (literally “doorway”) is an entrance from the material world to the spiritual world, a connection between the two worlds.
To the sound of finely ornamented music, reviving a Persian culture, the whirling of the dervish will be accompanied by a series of photographs of doors and windows, opened and closed, taken in the Iranian countryside*.
(Information provided by the performers)
Amir Amiri (Santūr)
Showan Tavakol (Kamāncheh)
Behnaz Sohrabi (Rabab)
Olivier Marin (Viola)
Shraddha Blaney (Dervish)
Nirvan Fadaei Moghadam
The performance will run for 1 hour and 45 minutes including a 15 minute intermission. Audience is strongly advised to arrive punctually. Latecomers will only be admitted during the intermission or at a suitable break. The presenter reserves the right to change the programme and substitute artists.
Persian Art Music and Iranian Folk Traditions
For the novice to the music in the Middle East, Persian art music offers an introspective and almost philosophical alternative to the stereotyped “oriental” soundscapes of belly dancing and the Arabian Nights soundtrack. Orally passed down from masters to disciples, the classical music of this centuries-old civilization invites serious, contemplative listening that compares to the most refined of European and East Asian art music. At the core of its performing practices and aesthetics is the sophisticated art of improvisation, practiced based on a repertoire of memorized melodies known as radif. Highly prized among its connoisseurs, the classical repertoires are organized around approximately a dozen modal systems called dastgāh. Persian dastgāh have been compared to the Arab, Turkish, and other Middle Eastern and Central Asian systems of maqām, while are also distinctive for their motivic contents. Importantly, Persian music performances are conceived as occasions for musicians to explore the various facets of the modal scales. This is achieved through meticulous accumulation of musical intensity, as realized in the ornamentations, the building of rhythmic rigor, arch-shaped melodic contour, among other performing procedures and techniques. Informed audience members also listen for the unfolding of the melodies between the pre-composed, metrical ensemble sections and the improvisatory, non-metrical solo passages.
While sung poetic texts are central Persian art music, instrumental music has been vibrant, playing a major role in the international popularity of Iranian music in recent years. Most Persian musical instruments come with rather transnational outlooks. The hammered dulcimer santūr, for example, is a close sibling—and likely the common ancestor—of the Indian santoor, Uzbek/Uyghur chang, Chinese yangqin, European cimbalom, and other struck strings found across Eurasia. With its broad range and rapid runs, the santūr is frequently featured as a virtuosic solo instrument today in concerts inside and outside Iran. The fretted lute tar (literally, “strings”) has a double-bowl shaped resonating chamber that is covered with animal skin. Its uniquely heavy plucked sound is often contrasted with the more intimate timbre of the setar, a long-neck plucked lute with wood-covered, pear-shaped body. Variants of both plucked lutes are popular across the Silk Road. The Persian instrument best known to the international audience is perhaps the bowed spike fiddle kamāncheh (thanks in part to the internationally renowned Kurdish Iranian soloist Kayhan Kalhor). The near-hemispherical, skin-covered resonator of the kamāncheh produces a nasal timbre that is at once rustic, nostalgic, and yearning. Not unlike its Arab and Turkish counterparts, the Persian end-blown reed flute ney is closely connected to Sufism; its breathy sound is listened to as sacred by many among the Sufi followers. Finally, the goblet drum zarb is often heard articulating the rhythm while also frequently appears as solo.
Iran is a country with a lot of musical variety. Notwithstanding the prominence of Persian art music, regional folk traditions have been integral to Iran’s national musical profile. Two best known of these include the epic-singing bardic traditions of Khorasan in the northeast (a cultural region shared among Turkmenistan and Afghanistan) and the Kurdish singing and instrumental styles found along the country’s western borders with Iraq and Turkey. The Khorasan two-string plucked lute dotār and the Kurdish plucked lute tanbūr are closely related to other etymologically similar instruments from Turkey all the way to the Uyghur territories in northwest China. Iran’s rich and diverse soundscapes continue to inspire a wide spectrum of contemporary fusion and tradition-inspired styles at home and abroad today.
Ensemble Kamaan will bring to the audience in Hong Kong a stylistically varied programme featuring both traditional Persian music and compositions by ensemble members as inspired by various Iranian folk and classical soundscapes. The musicians will interpret on traditional musical instruments a number of dastgāh modal scales (Navā, Rāst Panjgāh, etc.) through both composed and improvised forms such as Darāmad and Chahārmezrāb. Audience will also enjoy sung poetry from the great medieval Persian poets Nizami Ganjavi (1141‒1209) and the renowned Sufi master Rūmī (1207‒1273).
Tickets available from 23 Nov at URBTIX outlets, on Internet, by Mobile Ticketing App and Credit Card Telephone Booking.
Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first come, first served basis).
Group Booking Discount
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10% off for 4-9 tickets; 15% off for 10-19 tickets; 20% off for 20 or more tickets.
Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount offers.
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