WestFest 2013 – Poet.Water.Stone


WestFest Top Floor
Wednesday, April 24 and Friday, April 26, 2013
Choreographed and Performed by Annie Wang
Music by Henryk Gorecki

Annie Wang, a New York dancer and choreographer studying at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, performed her new work based on the life and death of Qu Yuan (屈原), an ancient Chinese poet who drowned himself to protest government corruption.

A sturdy, well-grounded dancer, Wang commanded the space, building her work in incremental stages, from calligraphic images of the poet/statesman’s anguish to mimetic representations of his watery end.

Two viewings left a spectator feeling that the work was somewhat truncated – or perhaps just looking for more from this talent?

2013 Tribeca Film Festival – JÎN


2013 | 122 minutes
Directed by: Reha Erdem
Languages: Kurdish, Turkish
Country: Turkey
North American Premiere
Deniz Hasgüler, Onur Ünsal, Sabahattin Yakut, Yıldırım Şimşek, Sema Kuray
Film website: http://www.jin-film.com.tr/index-en.html

My favorite film of this year’s Tribeca.

Writer/director Reha Erdem delivers a free-cinema fable and an elemental meditation on nature as observer of humanity and our self-destructive aberrations, tracing a teenage girl’s return from the mountains to “civilization” as she attempts to regain a normal life after years of guerrilla combat:

“It strikes me … that for millions of years the most honorable witnesses have been animals. Although they themselves are direct victims of the exterminations, they are witness to the savagery and pain through their stares, their bearing, and their wounds. Doesn’t the most hopeful way of avoiding the next extermination start by finding witnesses to the previous one?”


First-time actor Deniz Hasgüler equips herself as a great talent in the title role. Jîn, whose name means “woman” in Kurdish, leaves her fighter comrades one day just as the sun is setting. The beauty and danger of a rugged landscape is matched by this sturdy girl who is determined to live, attempting the difficult transition from soldier to civilian. A series of encounters with human predators leaves her increasingly solitary and vulnerable, as she finds her greatest source of strength and consolation in the wild beasts of her adopted mountains: a noble stag, a protective falcon, a panicked bear, a wounded donkey, a hungry lynx. In a final, wrenchingly piteous tableaux, it is these comrades alone who honor Jîn’s battered frame and spirit.

Florent Herry’s astonishing camerawork is deftly complemented by Hildur Gudnadottir’s string score.

Persian Songs from Timurid Period (14th Century) to Today


World Music Institute Presents
Global Salon with Bahar Movahed (vocal), Ali Samadpour (tar), Navid Kandelousi (violin, kamncheh, tombak)
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space, New York City
17 April 2013

In her New York debut at the Thalia, Tehran born and bred polymath Bahar Movahed introduced a sold-out house to eight centuries of Persian song, accompanied by master instrumentalists Ali Samadpour and Navid Kandelousi.

Movahed’s learned program notes are the best place to start:

“In this concert we are presenting the art of the ballad (tasnif or taraneh). Our program starts with pieces from the 14th century and ends with post-modern pieces by Ali Samadpour. This is the first time that such a concert is being performed, and I am thrilled to be performing this journey with Ali Samadpour and Navid Kandelousi. What we see and hear in this concert is the evolution of composition based on factors such as rhythm, scales, and poetry.

Timurid Period
“In the Timurid period (14th and 15th century), the music contained maqams (collection of ancient tunes and melodies) and a developed series of rhythmic scales – the same as sonatas, concertos, and symphonies in Western classical music. The composer’s job was to mix the ancient melodies and the rhythmic scales in order to make a new melody which was still largely based on the original form. The singer was not responsible for the meaning of the lyrics as much as he was for the spirit of the music. Music and poetry were combined with each other to create a third language of emotion and feeling regardless of the meaning of the poem….

Qajar Era
“In the Qajar era (18th century), the previous approach to music was totally lost. The use of Iranian classical poetry was pushed aside and the lyrics were created by either the composers themselves or a few songwriters….

Pahlavi Era
“Later on and in the Pahlavi era (20th century), Persian music became largely poetry-based. The singer’s first responsibility was to stress the meaning of the poem by performing it correctly. Due to this approach combined with a desire to compose on a variety of rhythms and tempos, classical Persian poetry became popular again amongst the musicians. Today this is still the main approach to Persian traditional music….

Contemporary Persian Songs
“Ali Samadpour’s pieces could be considered post-modern in a sense that they do not limit themselves to the early scales of Timurid music and at the same time do not necessarily have the characteristics of the Qajar period….”

In the course of their debut concert, Movahed, Samadpour and Kandelousi brought eight centuries of Iranian culture to life for a roomful of appreciative New Yorkers. Let us hear more!