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Soraya Mafi

The Phoenix

13 October 2023, 5:00pm - 6:00pm

The Phoenix is a radiant new song cycle by Iranian composer Mahdis Golzar Kashani. Originally commissioned in 2020 by Heidelberger Frühling in partnership with Oxford International Song Festival, it is finally receiving its post-pandemic world premiere. Inspired by Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte and following a loosely similar structure, it sets poems by Rumi, Hafez and Saadi, bringing together European and Iranian classical styles. A unique ensemble of voices, piano, cello and shurangiz, a traditional Persian instrument, also features improvisations between movements.

A superb team of artists is led by British-Iranian soprano Soraya Mafi and Iranian virtuoso shurangiz player Vahid Taremi. James Atkinson has recently been appointed a BBC New Generation Artist. They are joined by cellist Christian Elliott and pianist Sholto Kynoch.

We also recommend this afternoon's conversation introducing the themes of Persian classical music, as well as poetry and art, as an ideal introduction to this very special concert.

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World Premiere

Notes on the Programme

'The Phoenix' inspired by “On the Reality of Love” by Shihabuddin Yahya Suhrawardi (master of Illumination), is composed in six movements: Intellect, Beauty, Love, Sorrow, Astonishment, and Light.

“Know that the first thing God created was a glowing pearl He named Intellect.

This pearl He endowed with three qualities, the ability to know God, the ability to know itself, and the ability to know that which had not existed and then did exist. From the ability to know God there appeared HUSN, how is called Beauty: and from the ability to know itself there appeared ISHQ who is called Love. From the ability to know that which did not exist and then did exist there appeared HUZN, who is called Sorrow. Of these three, who sprang from one source and are brothers one to the other, Beauty, the eldest, gazed upon himself and saw that he was extremely good. A luminosity appeared in him, and he smiled. From that smile thousands of cherubim appeared. Love, the middle brother, was so intimate with Beauty that he could not take his eyes from him and was constantly at his side. When Beauty's smile appeared, a consternation befell love, who was so agitated that he wanted to move. Sorrow, the youngest, clung to him, and from his clinging the heaven and earth appeared.

As Love despaired, he took Sorrow by the hand and set out into the wilderness of perplexity (Astonishment).

© Thackston, W. M. (Ed.). (1999). The philosophical allegories and mystical treatises: A parallel Persian-English text. Mazda.

Click here to read in Persian script.

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13 October 2023 | 11:00am

Art:Song - Images, Words, Music

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Classical Motifs
13 October 2023, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
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Songs of a Wayfarer
13 October 2023, 7:30pm - 9:00pm

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