Farshid Samandari was born in Iran in 1971 into a Bahà’i family. This meant that he was not allowed to pursue academic studies in a university, was not allowed to leave the country as other citizens, and in general was deprived of basic human rights. He witnessed the imprisonment, tribulation, and martyrdom of many friends and scholars. It took him about nine years to legally obtain a passport to leave his homeland. Notwithstanding these conditions he pursued his music studies, eventually teaching, and founding a choir. In April 2001 he arrived in Canada where he continued his studies in composition and electroacoustics with Dorothy Chang, Stephen Chatman, Keith Hamel and Bob Pritchard at the University of BC. His music reflects his interest in contemporary classical vocabulary, spectral analysis, and extended techniques. In addition his profound faith in unity in diversity has stirred him to utilize elements from a variety of non-western musical traditions, and integrate different cultural music and vocabularies in his compositions. This vision has directed him to collaborate with a variety of choirs and ensembles including Tehran National Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Red Shift Vertical Orchestra, Atlas Ensemble, Laudate Singers, Turning Point Ensemble, Motion Ensemble, Musica Nova, Nu:bc Collective, Standing Wave Ensemble, Red Chamber Quartet, Orchid Ensemble, UBC Guitar Quartet, Vancouver Peace Choir, and Erato ensemble, as well as soloists such as Ariel Barnes, Neal Bennett, Jeremy Berkman, Connie Gitlin, Corey Hamm, Bruce Huebner, Mark McGregor, Sahba Motallebi, Julie Nessrallah, Beth Orson, Curtis Patterson, Bo Peng, Naomi Sato, Michael Strutt, and Eric Wilson. His Apogee for the flutereceived an award from Vancouver New Music 06; other half, an aria from his upcoming chamber opera SunarcanuS, was awarded CUMS09 best composition; and coming home, a trio for flute, double bass and percussion, won CUMS/CLC11. www.farshidsamandari.com
1. Excerpt 1 from Sinfonia Unifica I (2003) (15′) Sitar, Tar, Tabla, Darabuka, World Percussion, Kamanche, Shakuhachi
2. Excerpt 2 from Sinfonia Unifica IV (2003) (15′)
Composer’s Notes: “Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix!”
I. Prelude in Search II. Dance in fire III. Fugue from reality IV. Finale in assemblage
“Now is the time for the lovers of God to raise high the banners of unity, to intone, in the assemblages of the world, the verses of friendship and love and to demonstrate to all that the grace of God is one.” This piece depicts scenes from fictional epic of Símorgh.
As recounted in “The Conference of Birds”:
Searching for the Phoenix, congregation of birds decides to assign a flock to explore far and wide. So they select a large assemblage of diverse races and nations to initiate the investigation journey. After proceeding through Seven Valleys of trials and tribulations, only a group of thirty birds (Sí-Morgh) remains, realizing that their mélange assembly is the long expected Símorgh.
In another account: a Phoenix gives birth to new generation while dancing in fire and devouring fire! That is, sacrifices its being for renaissance and birth of successors.
Throughout this piece, human beings replace Birds singing tunes of high and low, and Phoenix (supernatural Bird) is New World Order (a natural accessible aspiration!), and is humbly suggested that universal love could convert hell to Eden.
Constant subdivisions throughout the piece while experiencing metric modulations, reflects relativity of time: Days are temporary equal subdivisions of life, with different credibility in our individual as well as collective prosperity.
Moments of reflection,
Instants of action;
Seconds as a cunning creation,
Minutes as a running formation!
Different elements from immeasurable musical achievements and experiences are put together in space and time. From African drumming to western absolute idealistic Fugue in five, from Shakuhachi tunes in Hirajoshi to Kementché melodies in Chehár-gáh or Homayún, from fierce reez of Tár to serene plucking of Sitar, all represent not but flares of the empirical civilization of golden age. Our journey has just started!
3. Excerpt 1 fromRemover of Difficulties (2003) (20′) Kamanche, Erhu, Tabla
4. Excerpt 2 fromRemover of Difficulties (2003) (20′)
Texts from Bahai scriptures
Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!
– Báb (Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 27)
O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 36)
O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord.
– Bahá’u’lláh (Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 203)
Lord! Pitiful are we, grant us Thy favor; poor, bestow upon us a share from the ocean of Thy wealth; needy, do Thou satisfy us; abased, give us Thy glory.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 21)
Qui autre que Dieu dissipe les difficultés? Loué soit Dieu! Lui seul est Dieu! Tous sont ses serviteurs et tous dépendent de son commandement.
– Báb (Compilations, Livre de prieres)
5. Asheghaneh (Monologues Aglow) – (2006) (19′)
Text: the quatrains of Bábá –Táhìr (in the Farsi language) Erhu, Ud, Santur, Tombak, Daff, Tabla
Asheghaneh implies a lover’s manner as well as the style of Ashiqs, who are mostly sufi troubadours in the Azerbaijan and Kurdistan region. The Ashiqs’ art classically, and Bábá-Táhìr’s1 quatrains typically, attempt to depict only an inner state: a static moment. This piece, however, tries to join these separate instants and draw a timeline: a statement of states. This piece is a day in a lover’s life. It starts by a dawn and ends by next. It opens with longing for the beloved as day set them apart.
Nightingale by dawn is not but wailing,
Recalling the memory of the flower glowing.
Gradually yearning turns to hopeless calls, and breeds a cynical worry:
Never suffered a pain or a wound,
How could you feel an afflicted heart?
The second movement presents a hopeless complaint against fate for the torments of love.
No peace for now, no hope for tomorrow;
My share of fate: piles of sorrow.
The third movement reflects the lover’s deliberate choice, and thus his hope of deliverance from pain: an end to separation.
Shall I sleep with her memory at night,
By dawn my bed is fragrant of its scent.
1 Bábá-Táhìr (944-1019) is known as one of the most revered and respectable early poets and mystics of Persian history. Most of his life is shrouded in mystery. He probably lived for the most part in Hamedan, Iran. His nickname, Oryan (the Naked), suggests that he was a wandering dervish. The quatrains of Bábá-Táhìr have more of an amorous and mystical connotation than a philosophical one.