The Razbar Ensemble was formed in 1997 by a group of Kurdish men and women, who have dedicated themselves to upholding the time-honored spiritual music and traditions of the Ahl-e Haqq, a mystical order founded in the 15th century by Soltân Eshâq. The ensemble derives its name from the beloved saint, Khatoun-e Razbar. Though the members of the Razbar Ensemble are certainly adept musicians, they are not what we would consider musicians in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, the ensemble is comprised of individuals, who have committed their lives to an elevated form of spirituality, and for whom the chanting, melodies, rhythms, and dances constitute an intense form of devotion. Their contagious enthusiasm, therefore, is the direct result of their fervor and conviction.
The mission of the Razbar Ensemble is to safeguard the sacred music of the Ahl-e Haqq, and to present it to the general public. The rich repertoire of this music is rooted in ancient spiritual and musical traditions of over 700 years ago. The repertoire consists of sacred texts and melodies that have been passed down from generation to generation. The structure and the content of the performance are not preset. These texts and melodies are intuitively arranged in real time during the performances, and the number of musicians and singers is flexible. The Razbar Ensemble gives its audiences a unique opportunity to discover the various aspects of this spiritual music.
FOLKLORIC MUSIC & DANCES
The folkloric Kurdish music and dances performed by the Razbar Ensemble are considered to be among the most ancient traditions of the Iranian culture. This culture has succeeded in keeping its originality and authenticity. The music being played and the chants that are sung are quite joyful and fervent, yet powerful and energetic, often associated with social rituals. The traditional instruments played by Razbar have their own unique characteristics, and deeply complement one another. The songs and lyrics are mainly arranged by the members of the Razbar Ensemble, and are inspired by Kurdish and Persian history and literature. Usually, these lyrics have a metaphoric meaning alluding to the spiritual love for the Beloved.
More than just honoring the Kurdish culture through music and dance, the Razbar Ensemble always integrates a spiritual touch into its repertoire. An example of this approach could be seen through the way the ensemble treats one of the most famous dances known as Chupi-e Razbar, which dates back to the time of Soltan Es’haq, the founder of the Ahl-Haqq, in the late 14th century. Soltan had seven companions, one of whom was Pir Razbar. Intoxicated and overcome with divine love during a zekr (sacred chant), she began to dance the Chupi. The Chupi dance repertoire includes many variations, both in technique and tempo, such as Halparka (hopping steps), Pa-pesht-pa (one step backward), and Pa-var-pa (one step forward). The choreography of the dance is often tailored to the specific purpose for which it has been created.
The Razbar Ensemble, while remaining true to its Kurdish musical roots, has always felt free to create new interpretations and to design innovative performances.
The percussion played by the ensemble is particularly known for its creative spirit. The performers allow their passion to elevate and expand standard rhythms and techniques, giving rise to endless new inspirations and improvisations. This novel approach allows them to take full advantage of the framed drum, “Daf”, and to convey a unique and captivating experience to the audience.
Bringing improvements and enhancements to well-kept traditions also applies to dances, allowing for heightened experiences of blissfulness and excitement. In its wide range of choreographies, the Razbar Ensemble creates astonishing elements of novelty, giving the dances a vibrant touch. The dances are complemented with impressive self-designed, colorful, and sparkling attires, which highlight the performers with a mesmerizing radiance, acknowledged by numerous audiences worldwide.