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HAMAVAYAN ENSEMBLE: Ode to Flowers
Includes 20 Page booklet / Poems and Notes / English - Persian.
All tracks composed by Hossein Alizadeh
Music performed by
Hossein Alizadeh, shuranghiz
Afsaneh Rassai, vocals
Madjid Khaladj, tombak & daf
Ali Boustan, setar
Pouria Akhavas, vocals
Nima Alizadeh, robab
Saba Alizadeh, kamancheh
Social interaction and expression are fundamental to the human spirit - communion, collective forums, mass struggle, celebrations, and funerary rites are but some of the more vivid reflections of this facet of our existence. They come into focus as they express the power of the many, the exuberance of interdependence, and deep-rooted human need for sympathetic action.
In music, multi voiced and choral performance is the true instrument for giving shape to such social phenomena. In every culture, depending on its historic, climatic, and religious environments, music, and especially group singing have developed in varied and different forms. In Iran, we can discern two broad forms of choral singing.
First are the type of group and choral chants that have taken shape from within the ancient cultural traditions of this land. Prominent examples include Zoroastrian ritual chants, Islamic recitations of special versus, ballads and chants of mourning processions, ballads and songs of workers, celebratory and funerary chants, and group poem recitations.
Second, a large number of Iranian chants and ballads have developed with strong influence from the ecumenical quartet singing of the Church in the west.
Yet, communal chants and ballads in Iran have their own indigenous forms. They use special tempos and rhythms, which demand compositional approaches that are fundamentally different from western ones. In Persian music, the way tonal and temporal modulations interact, both horizontally and vertically, are based upon a set of regulating methods that form the core of its musical tradition. As in the west, where compositional methods developed form the essence of it melodic repertoire, so it did here, but from modal modulations.
In Iran, traditional singing has been a monophonic "voice" that is performed by a solo vocalist. Yet, since the Safavid period (17th through 19th centuries), a form of choral chanting has become popular that has its roots in religious and often mourning rites, either as a single voice, or group chanting in a single voice lead by a chanter.
The forms in the present work were inspired by a number of variations of the latter type of singing that have developed since the Safavid period, for ritualistic gymnasium dances, or the zurkhaneh, dervish and sufi group chanting of poems, khan'e-ghahi, and traditional monophonic chants, a'vaaz. These forms have been adapted here for duo-phonic singing by a female and a male performer. Of course, all this has been done with strict deference to the content, voice, and feeling of the selected poems, from across a nearly a thousand year time span.
The Hamavayan Ensemble was formed in 1991 as the primary research and performance source of Iranian choral music. Since then, it has been comprised of many different instrumentalists and vocalists, according to the needs of each musical piece and the related research.
The ensemble has expressed its artistic work in many venues and recordings. It has performed in every continent with multiple performances in Iran, Canada, Europe, Japan, and the United States.
Film scores produced by the ensemble include, Del-shode’gan, Gabbe’, Zesht-o Ziba, Ancient inheritance, and Newmang. Its commercial recordings include Avaye’ mehre (Songs of Compassion), Raz-e’ no (Virgin Revelations), Birds, and Ode to Flowers.
© Hossein Alizadeh / Bâ Music Records
Hossein Alizadeh was born in Tehran in 1950. He is considered as one of the most important figures in contemporary Persian music, exemplifying excellence in traditional Persian music today. He studied the classical Persian composition system, the Radif, under various masters, including Houshang Zarif, Ali Akbar Shahnazi, NurAli Borumand, Mahmood Karimi, Abdollah Davami, Yousef Foroutan, and Saied Hormozi. He later recorded the entire body of the Radif based on the interpretations of Mirza Abdullah for Tar and Setar.
Alizadeh received a BA in Music Composition and Performance from the University of Tehran, and then studied Composition and Musicology at Berlin University. He has taught at University of Tehran and Tehran Music Conservatory.
He has performed, as a solo artist, in Iran, North America, Europe and Asia. He was the conductor and soloist in The Iranian National Orchestra of Radio and Television. He established the acclaimed Aref Ensemble and has often worked with the Shayda Ensemble. His first professional experience in Europe was performing with the famous Bejart Ballet Company’s orchestra for Maurice Bejart's ballet, Gulistan.
Some of Alizadeh's most noted works are The Nava Improvisations (1976), Riders of the Plains of Hope (1977), Hesar (1977), Revolt (1983), Ney Nava (1983), Dream (1986), Torkaman (1986), Raz-O-Niaz (1986), Delshodegan (1987), Song of Compassion (1991), New Secret (1996), A Time for Drunken Horses (2000), Turtles can Fly (2004), Endless Vision (2004), Nive Mang (2006), Under the Razor (2007) and Ode to Flowers (2007). Endless Vision has been nominated for the Best World Music Album of the Year 2006 in the 49th Edition of the Grammy Awards.
Alizadeh established the Hamavayan Ensemble in 1989 as a venue for advancing traditional Iranian choral singing. Composed of some of the best known performers of Iranian instruments and vocalists, this ensemble has produced many of Alizadeh's compositions including New Secret, Gabbeh, Songs of Compassion, Endless Vision and Ode to Flowers.
Afsaneh Rassai began her musical training in Tehran at a very young age with her father, Mohammad Rasaee who was the son of the famous Seyd Zia-edin Rasaee. She trained in the vocal Radif with Mahmoud Karimi and continued her advanced studies with Mohammad Reza Shajarian. In 1989, she joined the Hamavayan Ensemble and continued her musical training and professional activities under the guidance of Hossein Alizadeh.
She has performed extensively in Iran, Europe, North America and Japan with Hossein Alizadeh, Hossein Omoumi, Madjid Khaldaj and the Hamavayan Ensemble. She has performed on numerous recordings including Song of Compassion, New Secret, Endless Vision and Saaze No. Her film music credits include Delshodegan, Gabeh and Az Asar.
Rasaee has been teaching the vocal Radif for several years and has a large number of talented students in her school.
Madjid Khaladj was born in Ghazvin, Iran in1962. He began studying the tombak at the age of seven. As a traditional musician and skilled pedagogue in several instruments, he is unanimously recognized as one of the best representatives of Iranian percussions. Highly active internationally, he has performed in festivals, concerts, and conferences around the world. He has produced recordings, and art movie soundtracks (with Ry cooder and Lisa Gerrard), and has appeared in radio and television broadcasts in Europe. His music has taken him to the four corners of the world: Europe, the US, and Japan, where he has played with such celebrated percussionistes as Trilok Gurtu, Zakir Hussain, and Doudou N'diaye Rose.
In 1984, under the direction of Yehudi Menuhin, the Center for Middle Eastern Music Studies at the Institute of Musicology of Paris, Sorbonne, invited Madjid Khaladj to teach Iranian percussions. Using this opportunity, he has introduced many western musicians to Iranian music. In 1996, he founded the Ecole de Tombak in Paris (Center for Iranian Percussion Study). Since 1998, he has also been teaching at the “Cité de la Musique” in Paris, France and at the State Academy of Music in Basel, Switzerland (Musik Akademie der Stadt Basel in Switzerland).
Madjid Khaladj constantly investigates the vast possibilities in improvising within the Persian musical system, and beyond. The unequalled beauty of his style, his mastery of rhythms and the brilliance of his spontaneous creations not only place him in the top ranks next to great classical Persian masters, but also distinguish him as a major figure in world percussion.
Some of Khaladj's most noted works are: Anthology of Iranian Rhythms, Vol. I (1997) & Vol. II (1999), Iranian Percussions (2000), DVD of Tombak (2005), Nafas/ Iranian Art Percussion (2006) and the numerous recordings with masters such as Hossein Alizadeh, Hossein Omoumi, Dariush Talai, M.R. Lotfi and M.R. Shajarian.
Zarb, Tar, Setar, Tombak, Tonbak