June 16th, PAF presents: Shab-e She’r feat. Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet

Martyrdom StreetJune 16, 2010 6pm-7:30pm
PAF presents: Shab-e She’r feat. Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet!

Bowery Poetry Club / 308 Bowery / NYC 10012 / Subway to 2nd Avenue F train

Our June 16th Shab-e She’r series will feature Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet! Professor Kashani-Sabet teaches Middle Eastern history and directs the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. with distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar and completed her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in history at Yale University.  This event will celebrate the recent publication of her first novel, Martyrdom Street, published by Syracuse University Press. She has started a second novel and hopes to complete a series of children’s books in the future.

Her book, Frontier Fictions: Shaping the Iranian Nation, 1804-1946 (Princeton University Press, 1999) looks at the significance of land and border disputes in Iranian nationalism, with attention to Iran’s shared boundaries with the Ottoman Empire (and later Iraq and Turkey), Russia, Afghanistan and the Gulf states. Frontier Fictions is currently being translated into Persian by Kitabsara Press, Iran.

Professor Kashani-Sabet has also finished a book entitled, Conceiving Citizens: Women, Sexuality, and Religion in Modern Iran (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2010). She is also completing a book on America’s historical relationship with Iran and the Islamic world entitled, The Making of the ‘Great Satan’: A History of US – Iranian Relations (under contract with Princeton University Press). In addition to pursuing her academic work, Professor Kashani-Sabet spends time writing fiction.

An open mic will follow the reading, inviting everyone to read either his or her own poetry or works by other poets, in Persian or English, bearing some connection to Iran or Iranian/Persian culture. To sign up to read, please email poetry@persianartsfestival.org.

This event will be streamed LIVE at http://www.bowerypoetry.com!

Persian Arts Festival (PAF) revived Shab-e She’r, A Night of (Persian) Poetry, at the Bowery Poetry Club (BPC) but with a modern spin. Our program expands what tends to be a very classical Persian tradition to feature modern works of literature, ranging from fictional novels to memoirs. PAF and BPC continue to host readings of well-established and emerging authors who are of Persian descent or specialize in Persian literature. Readers have included Nahid Rachlin, Manijeh Nasrabadi and Joe Martin to name a few.

Dreaming of Peace, Hafez Nazeri Heads to Carnegie Hall

(reposted article from Women’s Wear Daily by Karyn Monget, 9/11/09)

For Hafez Nazeri, the opportunity to be the first Iranian composer to headline Carnegie Hall with his opus titled “Iranian Sounds of Peace” will fulfill a dream of helping promote peace and understanding between Eastern and Western cultures, especially after the crackdown on the 2009 Iranian election protests in June.

The New York debut on Nov. 14 will be presented by the Nazeri Music Foundation, Absolutely Live Entertainment and the Asia Society. Nazeri’s New York appearance with his father, Shahram Nazir, long considered the Pavarotti of Iran, will follow a presentation in Los Angeles on Oct. 3 at the Pantages Theatre, titled “Rumi Symphony Project: Cycle One.” Nazeri describes the modern concept and philosophy behind this opus as a “musical discourse to promote world peace.”

“At a time when all that we hear about Iran is filtered through headlines of intolerance, chaos and violence, I feel it is important to portray a 7,000-year cultural history with its deeply poetic and artistic mystical traditions,” says Nazeri. His goal is to be the “new face of Iran in the West, and create something that talks to young Iranians.”

Nazeri’s works, including the newest, “Night Angel,” to be released in 2010, could well do that. Reminiscent of a fairy tale set in ancient Persia’s purple night sky, it evokes the passion of a star-crossed angel and his lover, a Persian flower. The result is a combination of classical Western music with the pitch and tone of his homeland, his Kurdish heritage and Indian ragas (melodic modes).

Nazeri, whose work has been performed at a number of venues including London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Theatre de Ville in Paris and the De Bijloke in Belgium, notes, “Americans are going to understand my work fairly easily because they will hear their own classical music, but they will hear something very different in it. Because we will be singing in Farsi, it will be like going to an opera and hearing something in Italian.”

Nazeri, 30, is his country’s most influential young composer. A main inspiration is gleaned from Rumi, the 13th century mystic poet. He also created a new musical instrument based on the traditional four-string sitar called The Hafez, which has two additional low strings to craft greater a melodic range.

Here, Nazeri talks about his work as well as his Carnegie Hall debut.

WWD: When did you begin what you describe as a free and borderless sound of both classic Persian and Western music?
Hafez Nazeri: I started playing Persian music when I was three years old, the sitar and the tanbur lutes, the daf drum, and at age 9 started singing at music festivals in Paris and Avignon, France. I lived in Iran until I was 19. I attended Mannes College of Music in Manhattan and received a diploma in composition and conducting in 2005. I had no idea I would be coming to New York to study Western classical music.

WWD: What was the turning point in your career?
H.N.: I always wanted to create something different. When I first composed “Passion of the Rumi” at age 19 in Iran, I gathered four other young musicians. It was the first time a great musical master, my father, played with five young musicians. The Middle Eastern mentality is very conservative. It was a huge controversy and everybody went crazy.

WWD: So far, what has been your biggest accomplishment?
H.N.: The “Rumi Ensemble” with my father in 2000, a 20-city tour across Iran including the late Shah’s palace. We even played in front of 140,000 in Tehran. This is what I want to do again. I need to bring Western classical music to them, but I need to talk to the government and tell them, “Let me do this for the young people. They have nothing to listen to.” Young people are burning and dying over there for culture and music. They can’t record anything and they don’t have access to concerts, just traditional Persian music. When I was growing up I was a huge Metallica fan.

WWD: Have you spoken with the Iranian government about this project?
H.N.: Yes, a minister in the Department of Culture said we’ll do it. But it has to go through so many channels. And one of the laws over there is you can’t have more than 8,000 to 10,000 people in one place.

WWD: What are your impressions of the election protests in June?
H.N.: I was in Iran and left a month before the movement. It was quiet. But it all happened suddenly.