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Love Unites Music, Poetry and Art in Verdigris Ensemble's ‘SHAMS'

By Kimberly Richard Published April 1, 2023 Updated on April 1, 2023 at 8:47 am

What can a modern audience learn about love from a 13th-century mystic? Verdigris Ensemble answers that question with SHAMS, a performance art experience about the transformative power of love.

After three years of collaboration with the Crow Museum of Asian Art, San Francisco-based Iranian composer Sahba Aminikia and New York-based Syrian artist Kevork Mourad, Verdigris Ensemble will premiere SHAMS April 14-16 at the Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District. The work incorporates the choral ensemble’s 16 voices, a string quartet, prerecorded sounds, visual projections and staging.

SHAMS is the most extensive collection of Rumi poetry set to music in its original Farsi. Rumi was a 13th-century Persian mystic who underwent a major transformation because of his relationship with his spiritual instructor, Shams Tabrizi.

“Rumi changes from this rigid character to a person of love and poetry,” Aminikia explained. Rumi’s influence transcends nationality, religion and cultural divides, with his poetry translated into many languages. His work is some of the most popular poetry in the United States.

“I think he’s always been relevant, and he will always be relevant in history,” Aminikia said. “What Rumi promotes is all about love and seeing through the lens of love.”

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