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Music that transcends souls, intertwines brains, and settles in hearts

David N. Rahni (

Reporting from Brooklyn, New York (January 7, 2006)


The higher education system in the U.S., especially the community colleges, in observance of their missions, play a seminal role to connecting with the communities they strive to serve through cultural offerings. It was in that spirit that we attended a concert by Soroosh Ensemble at Kingsborough Community College (CUNY) in Brooklyn, an exemplary institution that has truly upheld the above mission to the fullest extent. The two-plus hour long, six-member concert, produced and conducted by Maestro Amir Vahab, performed in the Goldstein Performing Arts Amphitheatre where although several hundred mostly senior citizens were present, it looked as if it was sporadically occupied due to its capacity of almost a thousand.   



The concert commenced with an introductory charismatic remarks by Amir Vahab on Rumi and Hafez and their poetries, and the Persian music and its instruments. He then introduced mysticism and began playing his Reed Flute, accompanied by Taraneh, Yvette and Jude who played Daf, Farnaz playing Dohol, and Ron who played Tombak and Darieh. Amir later in the concert played Saz, and Tanboor, string instruments that latter of which dates back to as far back as 5,000 years ago, he stated.  Amir Vahab simultaneously provided vocals, at times by others improvising along with him, throughout the performance.



It goes without saying that music becomes truly intoxicating when a listener has been born in, and lived through it, and thus utterly understands the cultural, literary, historical, and geographical contexts through which such music is rooted. It was not, therefore, a surprise for a few of us Iranian-Americans in the audience to spontaneously wipe our tears across our faces, and feel the music deep in our bones emanating through our skins. We remained connected with Sorrosh Ensemble music throughout, danced with their melodies, and sang along with them-whispered at times, just not to distract others too much. And yet, a young, presumably Persian lady could not internalize her emotions at times--she started snapping her fingers the Persian Beshkan way, a resounding sound that to everyone’s amazement, in and of itself became the auxiliary unsolicited performer of the ensemble from the middle of the crowd!


Although Persian/Iranian songs and music were the heart of the show, Soroosh Ensemble, nonetheless, to everyone’s trance elations, provided a most exhilarating performance that spanned from Northwest China to North Africa via Asia Minor. Specifically, they presented songs in Persian, Armenian, Afghani, Kurdish, Urdu, Azari, and Turkish; Amir interspersed these songs with reciting poetry and translations of lyrics, while alluding to the commonality, communality and unity of human essence. He softly spoke of, and sang the Rumi’s poetry on Solomon and his birds, and David’s playing the reed flute, two songs that received the most intense applause.    



As the so called Middle East region, or more appropriately referred to as the south/southwestern Asia has been engulfed in war and violence, insecurity and ambiguity, anxiety and apprehension, intervention and intimidation, and whereas there are every indication that yet another war of aggression might be in the work as we speak, it was soul soothing to realize the music that bounds the people of this historically rich part of the world that have and continue to enrich the civilization so much, could still bring them all together with the snap of a Persian finger, Beshkan per se.  If the thrilling reception and appreciation the audience showed toward Soroosh Ensemble were the testimonials that such musical expression could only bring us all closer together, let us yearn for shinier days on the horizon for the region when the true empowerment of all peoples in the Middle East irrespective of their religious, ethnic and gender diversity is realized through justice and equity, education and cultural reforms, peace and security, and home-grown democracies and the rule of law.




Amir Vahab’s life has been “music” throughout. He founded and manages Tanboor, the Music Institute in New York City since 1981. For future events, please go to



... Payvand News - 1/11/07 ... --

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