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.
SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES THROUGH CELESTIAL HARMONIES
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
FROM A RICH HERITAGE WITH OVER 1000 YEARS OF HISTORY
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.
CREATIVE NOVELTIES ROOTED IN TRADITION
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.
Dear Friends we are extremely delighted to have been among the sponsors of the Razbar Ensemble. Their message of unity and solidarity, resonating through their captivating music and dance, speaks volumes of their dedication and devotion to promoting and disseminating a culture of peace and harmony. UNESCO is happy to have been associated with this endeavor, which further highlights the Organization’s celebration of the United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage 2002. It would be our pleasure to collaborate with the Razbar Ensemble on similar stimulating and rewarding projects in the future. Please accept, dear friends, the expression of my distinguished consideration.
Director, UNESCO New York Office, Representative to the United Nations
Jones Kyazze, D. Phil
Prof. Jean During
Vice President of the French Society of Ethnomusicologists; Director of Research at CNRS, Paris
Audiences are not only mesmerized by the spectacular and emotional nature of the Razbar Ensemble’s devotional music and dances, but they are also provided with a unique opportunity to discover firsthand an intriguing culture that has remained hidden from the West and steeped in mystery for centuries.
Prof. Annemarie Schimmel
Professor Emerita of Indo-Muslim
Culture at Harvard University
I would like to proclaim my full and unconditional support for the Razbar Ensemble’s cultural initiatives and activities. I have come to know the Ensemble quite well, and have been profoundly touched and deeply enthused by the spiritual power of their music. Their music has an astounding effect on the audience, drawing listeners into uncharted territories of rapture and elation. I wholeheartedly wish the Razbar Ensemble great success in their never-ending endeavor to pave the way for bringing Western cultures one step closer to Eastern philosophies and spirituality. It is hoped that their quest will serve as a gateway to a deeper understanding of true spirituality in the Western world.
The Razbar Ensemble merits considerable recognition and praise for their outstanding efforts in introducing and preserving the age-old customs and traditions of the Ahl-e Haqq, which have passed on from one generation to the next primarily through a collection of sacred music and texts.
Prof. James Morris
Chairperson of Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, Great Britain; Professor of Comparative Religious Studies and Philosophy
Dr. Dirk Rotenberg
Head of Press and Pubic Affairs, Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations
The enchanting performance at the United Nations, co-sponsored by UNESCO, displayed the artistry and dedication of the German-based Razbar Ensemble to transcending cultural and geographic boundaries with their music. The Permanent Mission of Germany wishes the Ensemble much success in promoting dialogue among civilizations in future performances around the globe.
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