VOA, Celebration of the life and work of Rumi
NY Magazine, Sep. 2003, Behnam Nateghi, Lang: FA
Deutsche Welle, Ahle-Haqq Beside Beethoven!
Radio Reportage, May 2002, Lang: DE
Radio Farda, Prof. Anne Marie Schimmel
Reportage March. 2002, Shahram Mirian, Lang: FA/DE
BBC Persian, In The World Of Music
Reportage March. 2002, Dr. Mahmud Khoshnam, Lang: FA
Et si, par la beauté on pouvait, un peu, améliorer le monde? Par la musique, on espère déjà adoucir les mœurs, mais il en faudrait, encore et encore et infiniment encore… Dans le beau cadre un peu sauvage de l’Abbaye de Sylvanès, nichée au creux des bois au fond d’un vallon profond, le 38e festival de Musiques sacrées et musiques du monde, haut lieu de culture et de spiritualité, empruntera en 2015, « les Chemins d’Humanité » ouverts à tous les hommes du monde, à leurs voix et leurs espoirs. Le festival ouvre sur la beauté de la musique sacrée d’hier avec la Messe de la Trinité de Mozart par l’Ensemble vocal de Montpellier et se poursuit par une Schubertiade nocturne avec l’Ensemble Contrepoint dirigé par Michel Piquemal, quand la Nuit du Bel canto reçoit Verdi, Bizet et Puccini avec l’Orchestre Symphonique des Jeunes de Strasbourg, alors que Bernard Tétu est en personne à la tête des Chœurs et Solistes de Lyon pour le Stabat Mater de Dvorák.
Mora Vocis et ses voix féminines présentent une création inédite, Femmes au tombeau avec Caroline Marçot en soliste pour des monodies du Moyen Age. Outre les musiques sacrées, les chants polyphoniques corses de Barbara Furtuna, la Squadra di Genova et ses voix du vieux port de Gênes et les célèbres Oxford Voices ouvrent la voie à un dialogue de polyphonies auquel s’ajoute le chœur toulousain Les Eléments et ses mélodies espagnoles et portugaise, avec Iberia. L’orchestre arabo-andalou de Fès contribue aux échanges avec ses chants judéo-espagnols et le Symphonique Circus propose un concert inédit, puissant et lyrique.
Poursuivant son ouverture sur le monde l’Abbaye de Sylvanès accueille aussi la chanteuse de fado portugais Carla Pires et des musiciens et danseurs de razbar venus du Turkestan. D’autres voyages au-delà des steppes mongoles au son d’une viole à tête de cheval alors que le Chœur de l’Oural offre un répertoire russe et le chœur la Grâce, un répertoire gospel et des chants du Congo. Il est à noter que d’autres rencontres, avec la famille Bach, avec le tango, ou avec Mozart et les Vêpres d’un confesseur s’ajoutent à ce programme infiniment riche.
Et il est à noter aussi que les grands concerts de ce festival, le Stabat Mater de Dvorak et la Messe en si de Schubert interviennent à l’issue d’atelier choral ou d’académie de musique qui permettent des rencontres entre choristes confirmés, solistes et musiciens professionnels et aboutissent à la production de telles œuvres, remarquables et souvent difficiles, contribuant ainsi à la satisfaction de tous les interprètes Et au plus grand bonheur des spectateurs. Comme on le voit, ce sont bien des musiques et donc des hommes dont les voix trouvent un écho sous les voûtes de Sylvanès, dans le grand chœur sous le haut vitrail en étoile qui affirmait, comme on le sait, les espoirs des hommes en plus de sagesse et de raison.
Le Théâtre de Verdure était comble, hier soir, pour la première soirée de Musicalia, dont le succès ne cesse de croître d´année en année. Au-delà des fidèles spectateurs de ce festival gratuit, l´ensemble persan Razbar a attiré la curiosité de nombreux touristes étrangers. Un voyage dans le voyage. L´ambiance était cosmopolite. Les 35 artistes de la formation Razbar, en costumes folkloriques, ont arraché les spectateurs de leurs chaises, les entraînant dans la danse de leurs foulards colorés. Percussions, musique traditionnelle kurde, chants sacrés (Zekr) et pour finir la danse de liesse. Les spectateurs ont visité les villages kurdes. Sont remontés jusqu’aux plus profondes racines persanes.
Une occasion aussi de découvrir des instruments particuliers: le tanbur (un luth vieux de 2000 ans), le kamancheh (un violon pointu), le daf ( un tambour sur cadre) et bien d´autres, dont les sons font parfois penser aux rythmes des troubadours. Nous transportant au Moyen-Age.
This is the second album that the Arion label has released featuring authentic liturgy played by nonprofessional musicians wishing to remain anonymous. The work is exceptional in many ways as it introduces relatively unknown musical modes and bears witness to the diversity of Islam, the vitality of a minority sect, and the endurance of certain rites practiced by a community of adepts living in exile in Europe. These musicians belong to a religious community of over a million devotees, known as the `Ahl-e-Haqq" (Followers of the Truth), mainly living in Iranian Kurdistan. These Shiites consider Imam Ali to be a manifestation of God, referring to him as Mowla (Lord) or Shah (King). They also believe in the transmigration of souls, the reincarnation of saints, and divine manifestation in human form.
Depending on the particular region, the creed has more or less distanced itself from mainstream Islam by integrating elements stemming from paganism, Mithraism, and Iranian dualism. Their music, which is a vector for intense spiritual emotions, is the community's main form of religious devotion. It is played in every family, and children are acquainted early on with ceremonial chants. Aside from these heresies, certain adepts do not follow the principle of separation between men and women, praying, singing, and dancing together on certain occasions. They have thus been accused of improper behavior and have often been the target of repression.
Three series of musical pieces are presented here, each of them emblematic of a sequence of zekr (remembrance). They begin with solos played on the "tanbour" lute and transition into slow modes that have been dedicated to prayer since ancient times. The more rhythmic compositions that follow gradually accelerate toward ecstasy. Melodies are inspired by modes used in profane Kurdish music and bare almost no influence to Persian and Arabic styles that prevail in other regions.
It’s not quite appropriate to describe the appearance by the Razbar Ensemble at the Wadsworth Theatre on Saturday night as a “performance.” Despite its entertaining aspects, the event is more correctly identified as a devotional experience. Their presentation consisted of two segments. The first was a djamm, or gathering, focused around the chanting and ecstatic expression of zekr—spiritual hymns and poetry. The second was a Tchuppi dance in which a line of colorfully garbed female dancers, moving through the hopping and skipping steps characteristic of the genre, combined with a group of males to simulate a wedding party.
As the intensity of the music, rhythms and chanting built, individual members entered their own realms of spirituality, bodies moving, arms waving, heads turning. In the audience, the aisles filled with people responding in similarly fervent fashion—a remarkable display of the Razbar Ensemble’s capacity to generate transcendent powers of communal expression.
The Ensemble roars to life on stage, as the music gradually increases in intensity until they lose themselves in movement and dancing … The thunder of the drum rips through the air—it is a moment of selflessness for the performers and audience alike. Nothing stands still; this music, which springs from the soul, magically penetrates the hearts of the listeners. It pulsates from the stage and throughout the hall. Uncontrolled tears of joy flow as the power unleashed by the ensemble transforms emotions.
The tanbur player’s subtle fingers glide gracefully across the strings of the instrument. The energy level and skill of the young drummer is overwhelming. Prof. Jean During, a musicologist and Vice President of Research at CNRS, made the following remark after the performance: “In an era when sacred art has lost its original aura under the projectors of the playhouse and the media, the Razbar Ensemble is one of the rare sources that continues to radiate the light and warmth that is so vital for the soul.”
The Razbar Ensemble was one of two sacred music groups invited to the international UNESCO symposium, "Unity within Diversity, Ethics and Spirituality," sponsored by several reputable organizations. This important event took place on November 18th, 2000 in UNESCO's great Lecture Hall in Paris. The symposium was a continuation of the World Peace Summit in August 2000, which brought together a thousand of the world's major religious and spiritual leaders at the United Nations in New York. The aim of the symposium was to create a synergy between the different spiritual traditions in order to develop a culture of peace.
The Razbar Ensemble's well-received contribution to the symposium was not only artistic in nature but was also meant to create an overall spiritual atmosphere for the event. The three sessions of the symposium were each opened with a riveting performance by the Ensemble, which chose to present only one vocalist and four musicians for this occasion: a tanbour player, a kamanche player, and two percussionists. The audience was deeply moved by the originality of the Ensemble's music, the liveliness of their presence, and the power of their rhythms.
The Razbar Ensemble filled the audience with excitement and enthusiasm. This “concert” was actually much more than just a musical performance, as people from all over Europe came from such places as Hamburg, Denmark, England, France, and Switzerland to watch and support the Ensemble.
The sounds of the large frame drums (daf) and the stringed instruments (tanbur and kamanche) were fascinating… At the end of the program, ten women appeared on stage and danced to the rhythm of the drums in long, colorful, glittering robes, which were as exotic as the East itself. They were joined by several men as the dance accelerated in intensity and volume. Many in the audience could no longer bear to remain seated as they, too, began dancing in the aisles.
In Bonn, Beethoven’s birthplace, a group of the Ahl-e Haqq—a mystical order within Persian Sufism—performed some of their rituals for the public. The program consisted of three parts, the first two being sacred rituals, and the third a traditional performance. The first ritual was a spiritual gathering (jam) that consisted of religious customs like prayer, chanting, and the consumption of blessed food. During the second part, spiritual chants (zekr) were accompanied by an exciting and energetic dance.
The zekr began with the singing of verses that were repeated by a chorus. The singing gradually increased in energy until the members of the chorus reached a special state of ecstasy, free from the constraints of time and space. The exciting tones of the tanbur (lute) and daf (frame drum) galvanized the chorus. All the performers danced and moved to the music, some standing, others remaining seated. The powerful movements and the strong, impressive voices created a stimulating and overwhelming atmosphere. The audience couldn’t stay indifferent either and even began moving themselves! The hall shook as the Europeans in the audience as well as the Persians lost themselves in the music. Some of the performers were moved to tears in their state of ecstasy, while many of the audience couldn’t control their own desire to cry out, sing, and move to the music. As the sounds vibrated throughout the entire body, even Dr. Annemarie Schimmel, the famous expert on Islam, had to move in her seat. This state of spiritual ecstasy continued for several minutes before the atmosphere slowly calmed down again.
The third part, the performance of several traditional Kurdish dances, was of an entirely different nature. The Kurds, both men and women, came onto the stage dressed in multi-colored robes, perhaps a reflection of Persia’s colorful nature. The dances were simple but attractive, and restored a feeling of peace to the hall, much needed after the stormy ecstasy of the music. As the roaring river of zekr changed into the quiet flow of folkloric dances, the evening of Ahl-e Haqq rituals came to a soothing end in Bonn.