When five young men who are a typical modern concoction of traditional Iranian values and MTV play music together what will it sound like?
Simorgh is the name of a mystical bird in Sufi folklore. As a band of young urbanites however, their music incorporates group chanting and a lyrical poetry that is folk-rap, accompanied by the evocative ney flute, tar strings and the empty bellow of the daf drum. This alluring mixture is – as far as our experience shows – at it’s optimum best when seen live, so we brought them into the studio to whip up some of that tribal feeling we’ve come to associate their performances with.
Fari Bradley talks to the five members of the band about leaving university, playing football, parents, Bryan Adams and musical instruments as weapons of culture.
Simorgh run workshops for the BBC on Iranian music and put on their own concerts around London. With their own unique melange of influences, the band stand for something many of us can comprehend: what it’s like to be a cultural cocktail in London now.
This programme was originally broadcast from the Resonance104.4fm studios on July 21st 2008.
Fari Bradley reports from the Contemporary Iranian Music event at the Camden Underworld and interviews artist Maria Kheirkhah live in the studio about her career choice to become an artist, collecting air in the Iranian desert and her current exhibition the Psychology of Fear. Featured are Farinaz Entegham, Ali Charmi on hip hop and faith, and the father of one of the members of Simorgh.
(pictured: Maria Keirkhah collects hot desert air for her show)
Most Iranian parents want their children to be lawyers or doctors, so how do aspiring musicians fare with their parents when making out-of-the-ordinary career choices. Also what does contemporary music mean to most young Iranians? We’ve heard the desperate eurodance trash that most clubs advertise as Persian music, and other than that there is only Dylan-esque songs and traditional music to choose from in the main. Rightly, some UK based Iranians are fusing the traditional forms and instruments with modern concerns, with a vocal delivery that compares with rapping under the moniker Contemporary Iranian for the event and Simorgh for their group. Simorgh are also promoting other new musicians such as rapper Farinaz Entegham (Holland) and Reveal (UK).
This show was originally broadcast from Resonancefm studios in London on June 16th 2008, produced and presented by Fari Bradley
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Nima Tehranchi, singer from Hush the Many Heed the Few visits the studio and talks to Fari Bradley about his success with Hush the Many and with his own solo project “Sliding Rule“.
Nima plays live in the studio.
Hush the Many are known for their finely balanced vocal interplays and innovative songwriting and have appeared in festivals all over the UK. Since giving this interview, Hush the Many have gone their seperate ways and Nima now writes and sings with Arrows of Love. Importantly, after the show Nima mentioned that being a guest on Six Pillars had made him feel more like an Iranian and inspired to find out more about the Iranian community in London, something non-Farsi speakers have limited access to. Nima is not the first to point this out.
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New Iranian National Ballet with Lady Jamila Kharrazi, the Toos Foundation, and Nima Kiann of Les Ballets Persans, Sweden, prior to the gala performance at Logan Hall to mark Les Ballets Persans 6th anniversary.
In a country where dance and performance is highly restricted, ballet seems something left over from the days of the Shas, a testimony to the effects of the identity of countries the west has sought to dominate. Meanwhile we may be familiar with classical scores that have sought to capture the spirit of the middle east with endemic melodies on violin or the standardisation of a sound from the Middle East on the string section, creating a kind of platitude in music for treatment of subjects during the launch of the era of technicolour film (Alad-Din, Sinbad etc).
In an ambitious move, Nima Khiann presents not only the ballet but an entire history of the importance of dance in Persian history, simultaneously dictated in English and Farsi at the gala performance with some sufi dancing by his ballet company, where the girls exchange their trademark buns for the loose, wild hair of a mystic seeker. The sufi tradition, we are told encourages dancing, an irony not lost on an audience comprised of many seeking artistic and spiritual freedom here in the UK.
Lady Jamileh Kharazi discusses the ins and outs of offering events of this size for free and her own extensive background in ballet and performance.