St. Albert is probably as far away from far-flung Iran as possible. However, for just one night, the Arden Theatre Plaza Series takes music fans to the distant world of modern Persian folk music.
Composer/santur player Farhad Khosravi and drummer-percussionist Daniel Stadnicki, who together released the award-winning album, Mosàfer, perform live this Thursday, Aug. 26.
Mosàfer, Khosravi explains, is a name borrowed from a poem written by Sahrab Sepehri. Held in the highest esteem, Sepehri is considered one of Iran’s most famous modern poets.
“He was a very secluded man, very isolated, very introverted and he loved to travel. His words observe and describe nature. As he would travel through a country, he would look at the landscape and describe it in poetic and emotional terms,” said Khosravi.
Using Sepehri’s poems as a springboard, the Iranian-born, Edmonton-based composer dives deep into philosophical questions of life and escalating changes in his native country. In its completed form, the seven-track, Mosàfer, presents a journey through different stages of life, from the day of creation to the day of death.
For Khosravi, composing and playing Persian music, a form that goes back 3,000 years, is a lifeline to his ancestral culture. The shared rhythms are an expression that transcend current political realities and offer an escape from worldly struggles.
The duo’s hybrid of Persian and western music, blends rapid tempos and dense ornamentation with a melodic pattern similar to poetry. To the Canadian ear, the music sounds exotic, romantic and haunting.
Khosravi, who moved to Canada in 2012 to complete the University of Alberta’s electrical engineering program, studied the santur as a child. Similar to a piano, the santur has 72 strings played with two small hammers. This complex and intriguing instrument is often described as a hammered dulcimer.
On the other hand, Stadnicki polished his craftmanship mastering kick drums, tambourines, bells, shakers, cymbals and the tombak drum as well as discovering makeshift objects to create a specific sound.
“He even puts a cloth material on the skin of a drum to change the sound.”
The two recording artists met several years ago through the Baha’i community.
“I had worked with a traditional Persian drummer, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I needed something more westernized. When we played together it worked. He could easily match the rhythm and style of what I was doing. But the music didn’t sound western. It had lots of flavours that intrigued me,” Khosravi said.
Thursday night’s 60-minute concert will feature music from Mosàfer as well as one of Khosravi’s previous projects, Sleeping in Sorrow. This early album focuses on the injustices of child labour, particularly the 70 million children worldwide under 10 unable to receive an education or enjoy a childhood filled with play.
The Vinok Orchestra, led by Edmonton violinist John Calverly, opens the program with a shorter musical presentation. The orchestra, known for accompanying Vinok Worldance’s theatrical productions, plays music from more than 60 cultures, often using traditional instruments.
The concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $15 for a single seat to $120 for a table of six. For ticket information email the Arden box office at [email protected]