Dr Joseph Salim and his colleagues from the Nour Foundation, a charitable cultural organization based in the United States, are to be commended for bringing the Razbar Ensemble to Los Angeles and New York this past May. The Ensemble’s performances at the United Nations, Asia Society, and Symphony Space were extremely well received by an enthusiastic and energetic public.
Deriving its name from the 15th century saint Khatoun-e Razbar, the Ensemble made its debut performance in the United States. Judging by the reaction of elated audiences, it should not be long before the Ensemble is invited to return for another performance. The Ensemble’s U.S. tour was intended as a celebration of the life and work of Rumi through a series of mystical melodies and dances.
Having been formed in 1997 by a group of Kurdish Ahl-e Haqq (translated as « followers of the truth ») residing in Germany, the Ensemble is relatively young. Through its efforts, the Ensemble seeks to introduce and share its mystical music with the public rather than to simply stage a performance. The Ensemble’s aesthetically pleasing costumes and dances are based on the recognition of the divine in its manifestations of beauty and majesty.
Music is an important part of the Ahl-e Haqq tradition and is performed at all mystical gatherings. Referred to as « zekr, » the mystical music and chanting is intended to induce a heightened state of consciousness. As the music and atmosphere slowly intensifies, the participants begin to dance and express themselves as they are eventually overcome with a sense of rapture. Their dances are an unbridled expression of joy that derives from the mystical melodies. For those interested in seeing and learning about the mystical traditions of Western Iran, the Ensemble’s performances are a must. If the music does not captivate you, the joyous dances and colorful gowns certainly will.