Robert Browning Associates presents first NY appearance of acclaimed Persian ensemble
MYSTICAL PERSIAN MUSIC
Saturday, APRIL 26, 2014 8:00 PM
+ 7:00 PM pre-concert artist talk
ROULETTE, 509 Atlantic Avenue (at 3rd Ave), Downtown Brooklyn
$25; $20 seniors, students Box office (917) 267-0363
Info, video & tickets: www.robertbrowningassociates.com
The Music from the Mediterranean to Asia series presented by Robert Browning Associates continues with the first New York appearance of Amir Nojan and the Nava Ensemble in a meditative program of sung poetry and instrumental music in the classical Persian tradition. The ensemble is under the direction of Amir Nojan, a virtuoso setar (lute) player who studied with leading names in traditional Persian music, including Dariush Tala’i, Mohammad Reza Lotfi, and Jalal Zolfonoun. Nojan is joined by vocalist Taghi Amjadi, who has mastered the intricate and ornate singing tradition of Persian music and has a deep understanding of the mystical Persian poetry tradition, and Sina Dehghani, a percussionist par excellence whose instruments include tonbak (goblet-shaped drum) and daf (frame drum). The program’s songs are drawn from a rich history of mystical poetry that ranges from 11th – to 14th-century poets such as Baba Taher, Nizami, Rumi (Molavi), Hafez, and Sa’adi, and more modern poets of the 17th – to 20th-centuries.
As with most Asian and Middle Eastern music, there is a close link between music and poetry. At times, when the Persian language and identity were under assault (as during the Mongol invasion), it was poetry that kept the culture alive. With religious proscriptions against music and dance at various times, the culture was often maintained through poetry because of its connection to Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam that plays such an important part in the lives of the Iranian people. Instrumental music is nearly always performed as part of a suite that includes sung poetry. Improvisation is an essential part of any performance, and the musicians draw on their experience and mastery of technique to convey the emotions described by the song texts while adding their personal interpretations.
Amir Nojan, born in Shiraz, Iran in 1980 and currently living in California, is known for his brilliance on the setar, and his comprehensive knowledge of radif, the Persian traditional/classical repertoire. He started studying traditional Persian music at the age of 12 and over the years has benefited from the teachings of great masters of Persian music such as Dariush Tala’i, Jalal Zolfonoun and Mohammad Reza Lotfi. He established and directed the Nava Ensemble in 1998 in Iran and has continued that work in the US. He has performed in Iran, Europe and the US as a composer, soloist, improviser and ensemble player, and collaborated with such renowned musicians as Alim Qasimov and Shahram Nazeri. In 2012, he founded the Shiraz Arts Academy, the first professional academy for the teaching of Persian music and arts in Northern California (San Jose).
Taghi Amjadi grew up in Iran, where he began performing at the age of 14. He studied with master musician Esmail Mehrtaash, and continued his studies in the US with Mahmoud Zofonoun, Mohammad Reza Lotfi and Mohammad Reza Shajarian. He is a co-founder of the Barbod ensemble, and has been teaching and performing with various artists in the Bay Area since 1980. He currently teaches classical Persian singing at the Shiraz Arts Academy in San Jose and works as a psychotherapist privately in the Bay Area and at San Francisco State University.
Sina Dehghani, born in 1976 in Tehran, has been playing two ancient Persian percussion instruments, tonbak and daf, since the age of 14. He studied with master percussionists Bahram Dehghani, Majid Hesabi and Navid Afghi; in recent years he has continued his study of daf with Bijan Kamkar, one of Iran’s most prominent daf players, and Mas’od Habibi. In Iran, he played with several ensembles, including Daf Zanan Delahor. A new immigrant, he currently teaches Persian percussion at the Shiraz Academy of Art and culture.
Robert Browning Associates continues the programming initiated by the founders of the music programming at the Alternative Center for International Arts (Alternative Museum) from 1976 to 1985 and the World Music Institute from 1985 to 2011. Current activities include curating World Views, a concert series presented at Zankel Hall by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Robert Browning Associates; a US tour by Asif Ali Khan, a senior disciple of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and his Qawwali ensemble; and a 4-part concert series of meditational music from the Mediterranean to Asia at Roulette in Downtown Brooklyn.
The last concert in this season’s Music from the Mediterranean to Asia series at Roulette features Omar Faruk Tekbilek with Murat Tekbilek – Sufi Music of Turkey (May 3).