Homayoun Shajarian and Dastan Concert – Chicago

Homayoun Shajarian and Dastan Ensemble concert on Saturday, May 16th, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.

Homayoun Shajarian and Dastan Ensemble concert on Saturday, May 16th, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.

RadioJavan.com: Traditional Persian music, otherwise known as Sonnati music, has officially entered a new era; an era where creativity and unconventional thought have intertwined together to surpass the limitations of tradition. As his father steps down from the throne, the prince and soon to be the Master of Sonnati avaz (singing), Homayoun Shajarian, has prepared himself for this moment: to inherit the style of music that has been dubbed by most first generation Iranian-Americans as dull and dreary. He provides a new vision; a hope that Sonnati music, through his youthful heart and voice, will gain its inspiration through imaginative innovation, while maintaining true to its traditional roots, in an effort to win the hearts of the young and still maintain the support of the older in age. This hope, this vision has now become a reality.

As I looked up from my second row seat, I noticed that nearly a fourth of the audience was of youth. This, alone, stunned me since only ten young individuals had attended the Shajarian concert last year in Chicago. I have to admit, though, that Homayoun Shajarian cannot take all the credit for winning back the youth; his success simply could not have been accomplished without the masterful unity of the Dastan Ensemble. With all honesty, words cannot suffice when describing the cohesive nature of Dastan. Pejman Hadadi, arguably the best Tombak player of our era, would enter his own world of blissful ecstasy by closing his eyes and hitting not just the surface of the Tombak, but the sides, the top and the bottom! His creativity genuinely captured the essence of music by playing the Tombak through unorthodox methods, simultaneously breaking the barriers of conventional Tombak rules. Behnam Samani, the Daf player and founder of the Zarbang percussion ensemble, also brought in an element of his own creativity through the use of the Kuzeh, or what one of my friends jokingly referred to as the “Tonge aab” (ceramic water pitcher). The audience was so delighted by the fast-paced and harmonized performance of Hadadi and Samani during the instrumental song, Mastaneh that not only did we clap for them, but so did Shajarian.

The most peaceful, slow-paced and relaxing song of the performance, Delshodeh by Araghi, encompassed Shajarian’s delicate singing, accompanied by Hamid Motebassem playing the Tar, Hossein Behrouzinia’s Barbat, and Saeed Farajpouri’s Kamanche performance that practically stole our hearts in a graceful fashion. I have to say, however, that the most emotionally captivating song of the performance was the final one: Vatan by Siavash Kasraei. The lyrics expressed the sharp pain of separation within the depths of our hearts for not just our homeland, but for what our homeland used to represent; a land of prosperous growth that promoted equality, creativity and ultimately, love. The events following the Iranian revolution may have distanced us from our native soil, but our love for the Iranian culture will never diminish. It is this expression that ties us all together to hope for a better day; a day where the true teachings behind not just Islamic values, but all religious and secular morals: equality, respect, peace and love for all human beings, will be reflected not just in Iran, but throughout the world.

We left the concert with this sense of hope in mind; a hope that Shajarian and Dastan had rejuvenated within our souls. This is the beauty behind Sonnati music; it describes the indescribable, it expresses the inexpressible. It makes you stare in awe out of sheer enjoyment in one moment, and then it causes you to cry out of pure sorrowful emptiness the next. Sonnati music is an expression of life in its entirety; of the constant pursuit of happiness and the search for love in our lives. It gives us hope, it gives us purpose. It is the key to the secrets of the universe and yet, it is not. What is Sonnati music? It simply, yet complexly is what it is. The more I describe it, the more confused you will be. Go find out for yourself what it means for you. Attend the Shajarian and Dastan concert and discover the truth behind Persian poetry united in harmony with the highest quality of singing and instrumentals that the world has to offer.

Click here to view photos from the event.

This review of the Homayoun Shajarian and Dastan Ensemble
May 16th Chicago concert was written by Ali Rouzati.

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