Music of Sphere (2017)

For Children Choir (SA), String Quartet and tape

Based on the text by: three lullabies from Birjand, Malayer and Tehran

Performed by Kronos Quartet and San Francisco Girls Chorus

Voices in the tape: Afghanistan National Institue of Music Children Choir

Premiered at SFJAZZ, San Francisco

February 5th, 2017 - Kronos Festival: Here and Now 2017

“The music of the spheres, according to the point of view of the mystic, is like the lighthouse in the port that a man sees from the sea; it promises him that he is coming nearer to the destination.” - Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

“The Music of The Spheres” is created as the result of a collaboration between Kronos Quartet and Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). ANIM is the first music school ever founded in Kabul, Afghanistan. Founder of school,  Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, an Afghan-Australian ethnomusicologist returned to Kabul in the 2010 in order to establish the institute and today ANIM provides a safe learning environment for around 300 students the majority of which are girls. They focus especially on supporting the most disadvantaged children in Afghanistan – orphans, street-working vendors and girls. Dr. Sarmast was injured in a suicide attack by the Taliban on the Centre d'Enseignement Français en Afghanistan on Dec 11, 2014. Following the attack, the Taliban released a statement accusing Sarmast of corrupting the youth of Afghanistan. Dr. Sarmast survived the attack and has returned to Afghanistan in order continue his work, build a new concert hall behind the institute, complete with a dormitory for girls and a safe room to guard against attacks.

Following the US election and recent events in the world, the idea of writing a sacred piece of music was no longer a far-fetched one. The people of the world have never been so desperately in need of reconciliation, unity and love from one another here was a tiny window for me to play a small role. For this purpose I referred to the purest organic music that I knew of, which were the lullabies of my homeland, Iran. According to Iranian musicologists there are currently more than 600 notated Iranian lullabies, from various regions of Iran where around 24 different ethnicities have lived for thousands of years. Three lullabies that I have chosen for this piece are from three different regions and in three different dialects of Persian language which is the language that both people in Iran and Afghanistan speak. I used these lullabies from a collection of lullabies gathered and researched by Iranian iconic vocalist, Sima bina and used them as a pivot to bring the voices of Kronos Quartet, ANIM and San Francisco Girls Together together, in order to create a human experience in which these passionate musicians can connect to one another from across the oceans for us to hear even for a short period of time, and even through a virtual world. 

Text:

Lullaby No.1 

Birjandi Lullaby

 

 

La la la my tiny little flower,

Fall sleep my nightingale,

Fall sleep my God-given flower,

Fall sleep your dad’s nightingale,

Fall sleep, your mother’s flower,

Fall sleep, mama’s nightingale

 

Asleep or awake, my flower

May you never be sick.

 

La la la, my heart is tired,

Your Baba (father) has packed to start a long journey,

 

Lalalala Stay with my my flower,

May you remain as my broken heart’s comfort.

I have you, my happiness, 

How could I then complain of being lonely,

 

Asleep or awake, my flower

May you never be sick.

 

 

Lullaby No.2

Tehrani Lullaby

 

Lala, comfort of my heart,

Lala, everything that I’ve ever owned,

Why aren't you falling sleep?

My earth and sky, my entire world.

 

Lala lala, go away nasty bogeyman!

What do you want from this child,

This is the child of a fearless father,

Who always keeps his two daggers in his belt!

 

Lala lala, my garden of paradise,

Lala my deep meadow and my glorious mountain,

Lala lala, you’re as pure as the snow on a mountain,

What did you dream of, in your sweet and good dreams?

 

 

Lullaby No.3

Malayeri Lullaby

 

 

Lala lala, my colorful buttercup flower,

Lala lala, my companion in dark days,

I'll be singing lullabies to you until the moon comes back again,

And until moonlight arrives again at our home this time in seven colors.

 

My dear, la la la, the comfort for my heart,

Fall sleep child, may your pain become mine.

 

I was once a young sapling grown out of the desert,

But an ignorant friend pulled out and cut my roots with no remorse,

He cut me from my roots and didn’t regret it,

He shamelessly did this to me among all the young souls.

 

Oh God please grant us rain,

So I’ll start to grow again in this dry dry land,

 

My dear, la la la, the comfort for my heart,

Fall sleep child, may your pain become mine.

World premiere of "Music fo Spheres" at Kronos Festival 2017 - SFJAZZ - San Francisco

World premiere of "Music fo Spheres" at Kronos Festival 2017 - SFJAZZ - San Francisco

World premiere of "Music fo Spheres" at Kronos Festival 2017 - SFJAZZ - San Francisco