utorak, 17. prosinca 2013.

Reza Vali - Toward That Endless Plain (2013)

Iranski Bartok.



East and West collide in this fascinating album of music composed by the "Iranian Bartók." As Bartók did, Reza Vali collects folk melodies from his native land and blends them into his music. The two sets of Persian Folk Songs here are both "authentic and imaginary," Vali says. Scored for soprano and chamber orchestra, the songs traverse wide emotional territory, from love and lament to children's amusements — some wild, others soft as a lullaby. The album's title piece is a concerto for Persian ney (bamboo flute) and orchestra, pitting two worlds against each other — Vali's Persian roots and his Western classical training. The middle movement dances with folksy tunes for ney and frame drum, interrupted by outbursts of Western strings and brass. Vali's music vibrates with rigor and deft orchestration. — TH www.npr.org/

Reza Vali was born in Iran. And, though he’s now based in Pittsburgh, much of his musical language draws on Iranian folk music, both real and imagined. It’s probably inevitable that any composer who deals so heavily with folk music be compared to Bartók, and, indeed, Vali acknowledges the latter as a formative influence. But like Boykan, Vali is a composer who’s created a unique voice with his source materials and that’s the primary impression one takes away from Toward That Endless Plain, an ingratiating album of music both original and arranged.
Throughout his career, Vali has composed a series of folk song sets, most of which are vocal though some are purely instrumental. Some are also “invented” folk songs—original music (and words) that evoke the real thing. The two folk song sets on this release, nos. 8 and 14, respectively, are vocal and feature a skillful mix of authentic and fake folk tunes. Not that one can really tell the difference. Soprano Janna Baty gleefully inhabits all of them, from the anguished laments of set no. 8 and the swooning “Mountain Lullaby” of no. 14 (whose scoring calls to mind moments from Bernstein’s A Quiet Place) to the Khachaturian-esque “Song from Azerbaijan.” It’s hard to imagine a better singer in this repertoire not named Cathy Berberian or Dawn Upshaw.
The title track is the most substantial piece on the album. Written for Persian ney, a type of reed flute common to the Middle Eastern music that utilizes a non-tempered scale, Toward That Endless Plain is inspired by a poem by the twelfth-century, Persian mystic Sohrab Sepheri that traces a journey from conflict to “peace and enlightenment.” Khosrow Soltani, the work’s dedicatee, manages the solo part with great sensitivity and understanding, though it takes some time to adjust the ears to the clash between Western and Persian tuning systems.

Throughout the disc, Rose draws playing of wildly brilliant colors and idiomatic spirit from BMOP. This is an orchestra as versatile as any, as they show again and again, and this album is a triumph on all counts. - Jonathan Blumhofer

Iranian-American composer Reza Vali (born Ghazvin, 1952) has been called the Iranian Bartók. This is apt not because his musical style is especially influenced by Bartók (in fact, Vali claims among his influences Wagner, Mahler, and Debussy, and I detect others as well) but because like Bartók, he’s a dedicated student and cataloger of folk song. Like Bartók, Reza includes not only original folk material but what Bartok’s biographer Serge Moreux dubbed “imaginary folk music.” As with Bartók, Reza’s goal seems to be the assimilation of the folk materials of his own region to such an extent that it is seamlessly integrated into his own musical idiom.
As in the case of the Hungarian master, it’s nigh impossible for the untutored listener to distinguish actual folk melody from that manufactured by the composer himself. The foremost project in which Vali explored Iranian folk music in this way is his series of folk song sets, commenced in 1978. These treatments employ voice and a variety of instruments, either grouped or alone, although Folk Song Sets 9 and 10 are purely instrumental. The two contained on this program, No. 8 and No. 14, are scored for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra.
Folk Song Set No. 8 of 1989 was written in memory of Vali’s grandmother, and the central texts deal with lamentation, though by way of variety Vali includes a popular Iranian children’s song, a love song, and a wordless sacred song. There’s textural variety as well in that the love song and sacred song have a chamber-music intimacy, the love song accompanied only by tuned glasses and the sacred song, by notes at the top of the piano keyboard and the claves (a set of wooden dowels struck together to produce a clacking sound—you’ve heard them in music of the Caribbean). In both cases, the effect is ethereal, the accompaniment recalling the sound of wind chimes. That contrasts with the two “Laments,” the first and fifth numbers of the set, which introduce the Tristan chord, “a symbol of love and death” in Wagner’s tale of the star-crossed lovers Tristan and Isolde. Oddly and intriguingly, the children’s song (second in the set) employs Sprechstimme, brittle percussion, and the eerily off-kilter combo of piccolo and bass clarinet—a strangely Expressionist setting for the nonsense text that makes up the song.
Vali, whose musical education began at the Teheran Music Conservatory and was completed with a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, consciously merged Middle Eastern and Western musical influences in his music, though he came, through a study of traditional Persian music, “to the conclusion that Western equal temperament is a limited system that has already reached its limitations.” He, therefore, turned for inspiration to the Dástāgh/Mághām system employed in Persian music, a modal and microtonal system at odds with the notion of equal temperament.
I suppose that Folk Song Set No. 14 of 1999 is transitional in that the singing of the first song, “The Road to Shiraz,” sounds very Eastern and reminds this listener, at least, of the vocalizations of a muezzin. But the second song, the really tipsy-sounding “Love Drunk,” makes me think—in its jazzy percussiveness—of an Iranian Leonard Bernstein! Ditto, the even livelier “Imaginary Folk Song” (No. 4 of the set). Most of the poetry in this series centers on romantic love, so it’s a surprise to find the last song, “Mountain Lullaby,” is a lament of a mother who wishes her baby calm sleep and protection from some unnamed “suffering / without an end.” But then surprise is one of the elements that Vali supplies with frequency in these folk song sets.
Toward That Endless Plain, a concerto for the traditional Middle Eastern vertical flute and orchestra, is one of those works that fully represents Vali’s employment of the Dástāgh/Mághām system, though again the union, or rather clash, of Western and Eastern musical materials fuels the work. The piece starts with a wild, crashing, highly chromatic introduction for the orchestra that melts into the strange, quietly resonating music of the amplified ney. At this point, the sound of the ney and the orchestra seem to meld, though elsewhere the two diverge in ways that create an animating tension in the piece. The program of the concerto derives from a poem by twentieth-century Persian poet Sohard Sepheri, which speaks of a mystical life journey “Toward that endless plain / That always / Is calling me to itself.” The prelude to Vali’s concerto, entitled “The Abyss,” is supposed to convey “the abyss of the human ego. . /fear, terror, violence, and war”—war represented by a siren blast that ends the prelude. The rest of the concerto concerns a spiritual progress toward a “mystical state of Kamâl (Nirvanâ), referred to in the last stanza of the poem. . . .” The quiet conclusion of the work might, indeed, suggest that a state of inner calm has been achieved, but along the way, the exciting Ecstatic Dance (the second movement) is for me the high point of the work.
This is all very attractive, very appealing music, music in which the exotic and the familiar merge in ways that constantly engage. As usual, the virtuosic members of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project are superb. They’re called on to produce some fairly unfamiliar musical sounds here and there throughout this program. (They become, briefly, a legion of softly buzzing bees, or so it seems, at the close of Vali’s Toward That Endless Plain.) The recording, too, is mostly very good, though fine mezzo-soprano Janna Baty is miked a bit closely for my taste, and in the folk song sets, the perspective is rather two-dimensional. Though the same venue—Jordan Hall of the New England Conservatory—was used for all sessions, the sound in the concerto seems more appealingly open to me. A small matter, really, given the chance to hear the work of this unusually gifted contemporary composer.—Lee Passarella

A flute concerto like no other

Iranian composer Reza Vali's 'Toward That Endless Plain' magically places Persia's ancient ney in a modern setting.

November 06, 2007|Rick Schultz |

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's Sunday evening concert at Royce Hall, led by music director Jeffrey Kahane and a repeat of its program Saturday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, began with Prokofiev's genial "Classical" Symphony and ended with Mendelssohn's solemn "Reformation" Symphony. In between came a West Coast premiere, Reza Vali's "Toward That Endless Plain" -- a concerto for Persian ney, a forerunner of the flute.
The work, co-commissioned by LACO and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and reportedly the first of its kind, was inspired by a poem by Persian mystic Sohrab Sepehri in which a seeker "must go, / where the mythical trees are in sight. / Toward that endless plain."
The ney, open at the top and bottom, is played anchored on the front teeth, where the movement of the mouth bends the pitch. The soloist was Khosrow Soltani, a bassoonist and old schoolmate of Vali's at the Tehran Conservatory of Music who also specializes in medieval and Persian instruments. The soft, breathy sonorities he produced -- a bit like the sound of blowing into a bottle -- summoned an entire culture.
Although concertos naturally pit soloist against orchestra in a musical dialogue, this one's dynamic came with a difference. The ney seemed more a respite from the dissonant, percussive orchestral passages, suggesting a peaceful world elsewhere. Even amplified, the instrument's otherworldly sounds could not compete with the orchestra and didn't try to.
The composition opens with a stirring cacophony, and then, as an air-raid siren swells and tapers off, Soltani's ney takes over. It's an odd, potentially overwhelming combination, but it works. There were other magical moments: Kahane occasionally making his modern Western orchestra sound as indigenous as the ney; the instrument playing off bacchanalian percussion and pizzicato strings; and past and present meeting briefly when the purer tone of the Western flute answered the human breath of its ancestor.
Though dubbed an Iranian Bartok, Vali has also absorbed other 20th century Western influences, from Debussy and Schoenberg on, but the heart of "Endless Plain" is his resourceful exploration of the ney's mysterious, haunting and evocative timbral qualities. This is essentially a journey in sound.
The "Classical" Symphony, a LACO specialty, received a high-spirited reading. By contrast, Kahane and the orchestra gave the "Reformation" Symphony a fitful performance, one not entirely their fault.
The composition, its sentiments willed, can feel hollow. Mendelssohn wrote it for a religious-political occasion, but it was never performed in his lifetime. He himself dismissed it as a substandard work, and although it's well-crafted and of interest to scholars, LACO didn't prove him wrong.

Revved-up Vivaldi, Persian Bamboo And Soaring Spirituals: New Classical Albums

If you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR NEWS. I'm Jackie Lyden. And it's time now for music.
LYDEN: This is music by Iranian composer Reza Vali, a concerto called "Toward the Endless Plain," and it's just one of a handful of new recordings that's caught the ear of my guest, NPR classical music producer Tom Huizenga.
Tom, welcome back to the program.
TOM HUIZENGA, BYLINE: Hey, good to see you again, Jacki.
LYDEN: You know, I'm listening to this, and it's taking me back to Iran. This is Persian music. It's so beautiful.
HUIZENGA: It is, and the instrument that we're hearing that's highlighted here is the Persian ney, usually spelled N-E-Y. It's kind of a vertically blown bamboo flute that's common in the Mideast and actually other eastern cultures. A super, super old instrument. One of the oldest instruments we know. And I think it just sounds terrific in this kind of east-meets-west concerto by Reza Vali. He's a Iranian-born composer and music professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
LYDEN: Yes, and the whole way that this is being composed, I mean, it really sort of opens emotion of concerto, doesn't it?
HUIZENGA: It's not exactly a regulation concerto. It opens up two worlds, especially because I think Reza Vali pits these two separate worlds against each other, the Middle East and the west. I think throughout the concerto, it's interesting that you're very aware that this very expressive flute, this ney, which plays notes in a different scale than western music, you're very aware that it's up against the traditional western symphony orchestra.
LYDEN: Yeah. I don't want to use the word battle, but obviously they're juxtaposed.

HUIZENGA: They are. And, I mean, that's kind of what a traditional concerto is. You know, like piano concerto that you think of it traditionally as a piano versus orchestra - soloist versus orchestra. And here's a spot in the second movement, I think, where we get to hear just a little bit of that. Starts out with just the ney and the frame drums that sounds very folksy and then the orchestra intrudes.
- www.wbur.org/npr/

How Persian Folk Songs Fit Right In

Music: Reza Vali says his Iranian-inspired pieces have Latin relatives and work well for Cuarteto Latinoamericano.

October 15, 1997BENJAMIN EPSTEIN

Reza Vali was born in Iran, collects and transcribes Persian folk songs and is one of very few composers writing Persian-inspired Western classical music.
So why is Vali's music opening tonight's program by Cuarteto Latinoamericano at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, an event described in promotional materials as "a concert of works by composers whose works are Latin-influenced"?
One reason may be that for more than a decade Vali and the members of the Mexico City-based string quartet have been colleagues on the music faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
"We have become very good friends," Vali, 45, said by phone from his Pittsburgh home.
Vali also cites a deeper, musical connection, one that stretches decades further back in time, to his teenage years, when he became inspired by the melody-gathering field methods of Hungarian composer Bela Bartok.
"Some people collect stamps, some people stones," Vali said. "I started collecting folk music."
Vali draws on his studies of Bartok to explain why his own music fits right in with the works of Heitor Villalobos, Joaquin Turina and Alberto Ginastera.
"The roots of Hungarian folk music are not just in Hungary," Vali said. "Bartok went to Turkey and North Africa, and reading his articles I realized that folk music is an international phenomenon. The folk music of Iran is connected not only to its neighbors', but to Hungary and Eastern Europe, even to Native American music down to South America.
"Folk music is really a timeless phenomenon. Musical ideas transfer from one part of the world to another via migrations. The Turkomans living in a region of Iran are Chinese in origin. Possibly they came with the Mongol invasion in the 12th century. Their music is not only connected to the folk music of China, but to that of the shamans of Siberia, and from there you can find similarities to Native American music--North American and South American."
Vali began his musical studies at the Conservatory of Music in Tehran. In 1972, he went to Vienna to study composition and music education at the Academy of Music. He earned his doctorate in music theory and composition in 1985 at the University of Pittsburgh.
He has written several works for Cuarteto Latinoamericano, well-known for championing the works of Latin American composers, and plans to write more. Besides their posts at Carnegie Mellon, violinists Saul and Aron Bitran, violist Javier Montiel and cellist Alvaro Bitran serve as quartet-in-residence at Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City.
Vali's first string quartet was composed for, and premiered in 1989 by, the Kronos Quartet. Other works have been scored for large orchestra, for piano and voice, and for electronic and computer media, but all are part of an open-ended cycle of Persian folk songs--either authentic or imaginary, i.e., those he composed--to which he assigns set numbers. He's up to Set No. 14.
The Cuarteto Latinoamericano will perform Vali's Set No. 11B, based on two folk songs, the first imaginary and the second originating in northwestern Iran, near Afghanistan. The set is a reworking for string quartet of a piece for four cellos commissioned by Ensemble Cello. (Appropriately enough, though Vali initially missed the irony, his favorite Persian dish before he became vegetarian was the meat plate known as chelo kebab!)
Vali recently has become very interested in Persian medieval music. He plans to research the subject in Iran and visit his family during a sabbatical next year. He continues to use the folk songs of his homeland as source material but no longer refers to his settings as Persian. The aforementioned migration of musical ideas only partly explains that decision.
"There is also parallel development and evolution, phenomena in music that are hard-wired into the human brain," Vali said. "The overtone series, for instance, goes across all nations, it is a human phenomenon. All the waters of the earth flow to each other--and folk music is somehow like this."

Reza Vali: An Iranian Composer to Watch and - of course - to Hear
By Maryam Pirnazar

Perhaps the most familiar quote about the East/West encounter is Kipling’s old “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” Some beg to differ. Not only East and West are not new acquaintances (a little knowledge of history helps) but the twentieth century saw a great deal of experimentation in ways East and West do indeed meet. But perhaps it is in the twenty-first century that we shall begin to see the realization of the full potential of these encounters. Reza Vali’s music is a case in point. 

Reza Vali is an Iranian-born composer and Professor of Composition at the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. (See interview below.) Though having lived most of his life in the West and being educated in western classical music, Vali remains thoroughly Iranian, albeit a musical polyglot. He has been called the Bela Bartok of Iran as much for his affection for Iranian folk music as for his modernist treatment of both folk and classical Iranian music. In other words, Vali does not merely “draw upon” different musical traditions in his compositions, but pushes the boundaries of both and challenges the listener in the process.
Vali’s most recently released CD under the label BMOP/sound, “Toward that Endless Plain,” contains two sets of his earlier Folk Songs (Sets No. 8 and 14) as well as his new Concerto for Persian Ney and Orchestra. To the Iranian ears of this reviewer, the folk songs, performed masterfully and with touching sensitivity by mezzo-soprano Janna Baty, evoke the nostalgia of familiar tunes while acknowledging the dissonant and often alienated context in which they now exist.
In the Concerto for Persian Ney and Orchestra, Vali juxtaposes the intimate sound of the Ney (the Persian vertical reed flute) against the layered and powerful sound of an orchestra. The result is a curiously harmonious dialogue between the alternately lamenting and joyful singing of the Ney and the roars and whispers of the orchestra. The two sometimes clash and sometimes echo one another, hinting at melodic and harmonic possibilities that leave the listener hungry for more.
Khosrow Soltani’s superb performance on the Ney remains true to the transcendent and sweet sound of the instrument, equally adept at evoking the longing of “avaaz” (a genre of Persian singing), the ecstasy of “samaa’” (the chants and dance of Sufis), and the light-hearted delight of “gher” (a playful dance in 6/8 rhythm).
After the 1979 revolution, a great number of Iranian musicians - composers and performers alike - have worked in exile or under restrictions at home. These conditions of isolation have greatly limited the relationship between generations of Iranian composers, and between these musicians and their Iranian audiences. It can only be hoped that changing times will bring greater enrichment of new Iranian music by the work of previous generations of composers who have done their share of exploring the possibilities afforded by encounters between Iranian and western classical music. There may also be new hope that the music of composers such as Vali will play at venues and by players whose familiarity with both musical systems will take the compositions to an even more nuanced level.

Interview with Reza Vali
Reza Vali was born in 1952 in Iran. He received his musical education in Iran, Austria, and the United States. He has received numerous awards and his works have been commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Seattle Chamber Players, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, as well as the Del Sol Quartet and Cuarteto Latinoamericano. He is Associate Professor of Music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/~rv0l
I interviewed him recently via email.
Tell us about yourself - your educational and professional background, and your compositions.
I was born in Ghazvin and studied at the Tehran Conservatory from 1965 to 1969. In 1972 I went to Vienna and studied music education and composition at the Academy of Music in Vienna. After graduating from the Academy of Music, I moved to the United States and continued my studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving a Ph.D. in music theory and composition in 1985. I have been a faculty member of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University since 1988.
My compositions include pieces for large orchestra, string quartet, piano and voice, and chamber ensemble. My music has been performed in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, Chile, Iran, Hong Kong, and Australia and is recorded on the Naxos, Albany, New Albion, MMC, Ambassador, and ABC Classics record labels.
Tell us about the Ney Concerto: How do you reconcile writing in Persian Dastgah to western harmony?
The musical material of the work is entirely derived from Persian traditional music. The tuning, rhythm, form, as well as polyphonic constructions such as imitation, inversion, and retrogradation relate to the Persian modal system, the Dastgah. Since the entire composition is based on the Dastgah system, there has been no attempt to reconcile the system with western harmony. All aspects of the composition are directly derived from the Persian system and the western musicians are asked to adapt to aspects of the Persian system such as tuning, rhythm, etc.
Why did you decide to write a Concerto for Persian Ney and how did you find a performer who would perform the piece with just three rehearsals with the orchestra?
The Ney is one of my most favorite instruments especially the Persian Ney which is performed using a special performance technique called the technique of Isfahan, named after the city of Isfahan where this technique was developed. Following the Isfahan performance technique, the performer has to put the instrument inside of the mouth, anchoring it on the front teeth. The teeth, the mouth, and the sinus cavities are used for the sound production. The produced sound is hauntingly rich and beautiful, full of overtone harmonics.
I always wanted to write a work for the Persian Ney but could not find a performer who would perform such a piece with the minimum rehearsal requirements of the American orchestras, three rehearsals and the concert.
I finally contact my wonderful friend of the Tehran conservatory days Khosrow Soltani since Khosrow is a fantastic performer of the bassoon as well as all European medieval instruments. It turned out that Khosrow plays all Persian wind instruments including the Ney. I happily set to work on the concerto and finished the work in a year and half.
Tragically, Khosrow’s wife, Farzaneh Navai, who was also my dear friend from the Tehran conservatory days, passed away right after I completed the Ney Concerto. Therefore, the Ney Concerto is dedicated to the memory of Farzaneh Navai.
What have you incorporated in the Ney Concerto from your background in western classical music?
The idea of using western instruments, the exact notation of the score and parts, which are precisely notated in western notation, the use of instrumental timbres, the concept of long-range design of musical forms, are all related to my background in western classical music.
The title of the Ney Concerto is “Toward That Endless Plain” which is also the title of the CD. What does this title mean and why did you choose it for the Ney Concerto?
The title Toward That Endless Plain comes from the following poem by the 20th century Persian mystic poet Sohrab Sepehri:
I must depart tonight.
Taking a suitcase,
(the size of my loneliness),
I must go,
where the mythical trees are in sight.
Toward that endless plain,
that always,
is calling me to itself.

The concerto consists of a prelude and three movements. The second and the third movements are connected through an interlude. Throughout the concerto, the solo Ney characterizes “the seeker” (Salek or Rahro in Persian), while the orchestra embodies the environment of the seeker (Vadi in Persian).
How do you notate a piece such as Ney Concerto?
Western classical musicians do not improvise. Therefore, all aspects of the music (pitch, rhythm, dynamics, articulations, etc.) have to be precisely notated. Every aspect of the music in the Ney Concerto is exactly notated. For transcription of the micro-tones, I use the standard notation of the micro-tones, the Sori and the Koron, which were developed during early 20th century by the Persian master Alinaghi Vaziri.
Given your background in western classical music, what inspired your interest in Persian Dastgahs?
My education at the Tehran Conservatory was completely western. Sadly, the Persian music system, the Dastgah, was not taught at the conservatory and we were trained in the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, etc. Not even a single note of Persian music or a single sentence about Persian music history was taught - nothing!! As if we were born in Iran by accident!
My involvement with the Dastgah came through folk music. Composing and studying Persian folk music, I came to realize that there is a strong connection between Persian folk music and Persian classical music and both are based on the Dastgah/Maqam system. The more I studied the Dastgah system, the more I realized that this is one of the most sophisticated and most complex musical systems in the world. Since 2000, I have completely broken away from the western music system (12 notes equal temperament, western musical forms, etc.) and my music has been since then based on the Dastgah system.
I have to mention here that my recent music, although based on the Dastgah, does not follow the Radif. Radif is the concentrated form of the Dastgah and is usually attributed to one of the masters of Persian classical music, such as the 19th century master Mirza Abdollah, or the 20th century master Abolhasan Saba. Radif is quite strict and has to be followed according to the performance practice of a particular master. Dastgah is the umbrella system, the superstructure, and can be used freely.
Which of your pieces have been performed in Iran?
One of my string quartets was performed in Tehran in 2004 and a solo guitar piece called Gozaar was performed last summer in Tehran by the Iranian guitar virtuoso Lily Afshar. Gozaar was written for Ms. Afshar and she has performed it in many of her guitar recitals in the U.S., Europe, Turkey, and Iran.
My work Folk Songs (Set No. 11B) was performed in Tehran on May 5, 2005 by the Armenian string quartet the “Ani String Quartet.”  The performance was part of a festival of Iranian contemporary music that took place in Tehran on May 5-7, 2005.
Tell us more about your compositions before the Dastgah period and the series of compositions called “Folk Songs”
The main focus of my music before 2000 was Iranian folk music.  I started collecting folk music when I was a student at the Tehran Conservatory, an activity that I have continued to the present day, and I have a large collection of Persian folk music consisting of tapes, cassettes, and CDs.  This is not a musicological undertaking because I am not a musicologist.  I have used Iranian folk music as raw material for my compositions.
In 1978, I wrote a piece called Four Persian Folk Songs for voice and piano. The success of this piece encouraged me to continue composing pieces based on Persian folk songs. This was the start of a continuing cycle of Persian Folk Songs and I have composed 16 sets of these folk songs encompassing close to one hundred songs. Each set consists of four to eight songs. The early sets were for voice and piano. Then I started expanding to composing songs for voice and orchestra, voice and chamber ensemble, and instrumental pieces without voice (songs without words). Because of their simple forms, folk songs are great raw material to be superimposed on a western harmony or even a modern harmony and orchestration.
The current CD includes two sets from my Folk Songs cycle. Set No. 8 which is for voice and chamber ensemble, and Folk Songs Set No. 14 which is for voice and chamber orchestra. Folk Songs (Set No. 8) was composed in 1989, and Folk Songs (Set No. 14) was written in 1999.
I imagine that it is especially difficult for a composer like you to have his pieces performed. Have you experimented with electronic production of your music?
Since I cannot play a Persian instrument, I started developing a computer-based Persian keyboard, called the Arghonoon, on which I can produce the sounds of western instruments as well as Persian instruments and tune them to the microtonal scales of the Persian Dastgah/Magham system. I have established the hardware/software components of the instrument and have been able to tune various western instruments (such as flute, harp, strings, etc.) in Persian tuning, effectively creating a Persian orchestra out of digital samples of the western orchestra. Arghonoon is able to create the Persian intervals with precise accuracy and is already solving many of my problems dealing with the Equal Temperament of the western instruments. In its final stage of development, Arghonoon will be able to produce the sounds of all Persian instruments, western instruments, and many other Asian, African, and Latin American instruments, and it will be able to produce any type of interval tuning with precision and accuracy.
What pieces are you working on now?
I have recently finished a piece for orchestra called Ravan which is a commission from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and will be premiered in February 2014 in Pittsburgh. I am working right now on a piece for micro-tonal trumpet and orchestra for my colleague, the trumpet virtuoso and member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Neal Berntsen .
Last but not least tell us about The Center for Iranian Music (CFIM).
CFIM was founded by Dr. Bijan Elyaderani and I in 2010. It is based in the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University and is dedicated to preserving and promoting Iranian music. This includes traditional music (the Dastgah system), folk music (regional music of Iran), contemporary music, and commemorative and religious music. It achieves its goals through education, community engagement, and Iranian music conservation and promotion.
In March 2013, Carnegie Mellon University’s College of fine Arts and School of Music presented the CFIM’s opening concert. The concert was a tribute to the Master of Santoor, Dr. Driush Saghafi, and featured performances by Dr. Ramin Saghafi and the renowned Carpe Diem String Quartet. For more about CFIM please visit http://centerforiranianmusic.org.


Reza Vali was born in Ghazvin, Persia (Iran) in 1952. He began his music studies at the Conservatory of Music in Tehran. In 1972 he went to Austria and studied music education and composition at the Academy of Music in Vienna. After graduating from the Academy of Music, he moved to the United States and continued his studies at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving his Ph.D. in music theory and composition in 1985. Mr. Vali has been a faculty member of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University since 1988. He has received numerous honors and commissions, including the honor prize of the Austrian Ministry of Arts and Sciences, two Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships, commissions from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Players, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, as well as grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust as the Outstanding Emerging Artist for which he received the Creative Achievement Award. Vali's orchestral compositions have been performed in the United States by the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Baltimore Symphony, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra 2001. His chamber works have received performances by Cuarteto Latinoamericano, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Kronos Quartet, the Seattle Chamber Players, and the Da Capo Chamber Players. His music has been performed in Europe, China, Chile, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Australia and is recorded on the Naxos, New Albion, MMC, Ambassador, Albany, and ABC Classics labels. -
 Maryam Pirnazar www.payvand.com/news/13/jul/1127.html

Calligraphies: Three Persian String Quartets (Pejman Akbarzadeh, payvand.com)
A Composer in a New Key (Maryam Pirnazar, iranian.com)
How Persian Folk Songs Fit Right In (Benjamin Epstein, The Los Angels Times)
Love and Enlightenment (Andrew Druckenbrod, post-gazette.com)

Composer's page @ andrew.cmu.edu (Carnegie Mellon University)

Vali @ Wikipedia
Vali @ American Composers Forum
Vali @ Answers.com
Vali @ Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Vali @ Classical Archives
Vali @ Classical Composers Database
Vali @ Classical Net
Vali @ composers-classical-music
Vali @ Facebook
Vali @ Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry
Vali @ Furious Artisans
Vali @ IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
Vali @ InstantEncore
Vali @ Iranian.com
Vali @ Klassika
Vali @ Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Vali @ MMB Music
Vali @ MusicWeb International
Vali @ MySpaceMusic
Vali @ Naxos
Vali @ New Albion Records
Vali @ The New York Times
Vali @ Par Times

Vali @ Composer's website/publisher listings
Vali @ Lauren Keiser Music Publishing
Vali @ MMB Music

Streaming Audio
Vali @ Composer's website
Vali @ ABC National Radio/The Music Show
Vali @ Symphony Cast/American Public Media
Vali @ last.fm
Vali @ PRI's The World

Vali @ Composer's website
Vali @ Albany Records
Vali @ Amazon.com
Vali @ ArkivMusic
Vali @ CD Universe
Vali @ ClassicsOnline
Vali @ DRAM Online
Vali @ itunes
Vali @ Naxos
Vali @ New Albion Records

Calligraphies & String Quartets @ Albany Records
Chamber Music (Chant and Dance, etc.) @ Albany Records
Flute Concerto; Deylaman; Folk Songs (Set No. 10) @ Naxos
Persian Folklore @ New Albion Records

Vali @ YouTube
Vali @ Google Video
Vali @ Vimeo (via Google Advanced Search)
Vali @ Vimeo - Arghonoon Project (2010)

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