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NJSO performs Ranjbaran's Seemorgh: Persian Trilogy for Orchestra

Source: New Jersey Symphony Orchestra


Behzad Ranjbaran




NEWARK, NJ (FEBRUARY 24, 2011)-Music Director Jacques Lacombe and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) perform Iranian-born composer Behzad Ranjbaran’s Seemorgh: Persian Trilogy for Orchestra on the NJSO’s “Arabian Nights” program this weekend in Newark, Morristown and New Brunswick. Praised for its “lush exoticism” by American Record Guide, Seemorgh appears as part of the NJSO’s New Jersey Roots Project, an initiative celebrating the music of composers who were born in New Jersey or whose artistic identity was shaped by time spent in the Garden State.

Performances take place on Friday, February 25, (8 p.m.) at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, Saturday, February 26, (3 p.m.) at the Community Theatre in Morristown and Sunday, February 27, (3 p.m.) at the State Theatre in New Brunswick.

Seemorgh takes its inspiration from the ancient Persian legends recounted in the 11th-century epic poem “Shahnameh” (“The Book of Kings”). The Seemorgh is a magical bird who rescues and raises as her own a baby whose father, a warrior, abandoned him at Mount Alborz, fearing an evil curse. When the boy, Zaal, grows and leaves, Seemorgh gives him one of her multicolored feathers; should he need her and stroke the feather, the bird would appear.

“The three movements of Seemorgh are inspired by the three natural elements of the legend of Seemorgh: the mountain, the moonlight and the sunrise, respectively,” Ranjbaran writes in his program notes for the work. “Having spent many days and nights on Mount Alborz in my formative years, I have developed a special affinity for the natural setting of the story. It is hard not to be inspired by the splendid images of young Zaal’s encounters with the gigantic Seemorgh and her fledglings under the moonlight at the peak of the mountain. The sight of the long, white-haired Zaal riding on the fabulously colorful Seemorgh, circling the mountain at sunrise, must have been thrilling! One only hopes that at the climaxes of each movement, the spirit of Seemorgh is invoked.”

Ranjbaran lived in New Jersey in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts twice named him a Distinguished Artist, and he composed Seemorgh through the grant associated with the award.

“It will be very gratifying to have Seemorgh performed in New Jersey. It was conceived and composed there ... it’s coming home.”

“[The New Jersey Roots Project] is a terrific program that the NJSO has,” Ranjbaran says. “There is a homegrown branch of the symphonic art form, and the NJSO is recognizing that officially-not just as a piece on a program, but as a project. The fact that composers who lived and composed in New Jersey are being recognized really contributes to the richness of the cultural fabric of the state. It shows that there is a relevancy of symphonic music to our daily lives.”

The exotic program explores stories of adventure and tapestries of orchestral color in “Arabian Nights,” which also features Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Nielsen’s Aladdin Suite.

In an exciting pairing of two artistic mediums, photos of Arabian Nights-inspired artwork by New Jersey artists will be projected onto a screen above the stage during the Orchestra’s performance of Nielsen’s Aladdin Suite. Each concert will also feature an intimate lobby exhibition of the artwork.

To select the artwork for the event, the Orchestra partnered with Newark’s City Without Walls Gallery (cWOW), New Jersey’s oldest non-profit contemporary art space. cWOW managed the project by hosting the jurying process and photographing the selected artwork; cWOW will also install the exhibit. The jury selected the work of five artists-Alice Harrison, Hilary Shank-Kuhl, Karen Friedland, Lizzi Schippert and Veru Narula. Photographer Ed Fausty worked with cWOW to shoot vibrant images of the art.

For more information on the New Jersey Roots Project, visit .

For more information about Seemorgh, including the composer’s complete program notes, visit .

The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is a presenting sponsor for the Morristown series.

Tickets range in price from $20 to $82 and are available for purchase online at or by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476).

Born in Tehran, Iran, Behzad Ranjbaran’s musical education started early when he entered the Tehran Music Conservatory at the age of 9. He came to the United States in 1974 to attend Indiana University and received his doctorate in composition from The Juilliard School, where he currently serves on the faculty.

During 2009-10 season, the Virginia Symphony premiered his Concerto for Violin and Viola and the Santa Rosa Symphony premiered Mithra. Other recent works include concertos for piano and for violin, as well as Songs of Eternity based on the Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam, written for soprano Renee Fleming. International Sejong Soloists commissioned Awakening for premiere at the Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea as a celebration of peace.

Recordings include the Persian Trilogy on the Delos label by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. This orchestral cycle, comprising the works Seven Passages, Seemorgh and The Blood of Seyavash, takes its inspiration from ancient Persian legends, as recounted in the 11th century epic poem “Shahnameh” (“The Book of Kings”). In describing this recording, American Record Guide said, “Ranjbaran has composed a noble and brilliantly conceived score, spectacularly orchestrated and filled with memorable tunes, meticulous development and impressive craftsmanship.”

Named a “Distinguished Artist” by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Ranjbaran’s honors also include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a grant from Meet the Composer and a Charles Ives Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

From the beginning of his career, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jacques Lacombe has been highly praised as a remarkable conductor whose artistic integrity and rapport with orchestras have propelled him to international stature.

Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal from 2002 to 2006, he led the orchestra in more than 100 performances, including programs from the central European classics to the French and Russian literature, as well as several world premieres. He served for three years as Music Director of both orchestra and opera with the Philharmonie de Lorraine in France; he has been Music Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivieres since 2006.

In addition to his collaborations with all the major Canadian orchestras, including several tours and recordings with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Lacombe has worked abroad with orchestras in Monte-Carlo, Nice, Toulouse and Halle, as well as Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris, Slovakia Philharmonic, Budapest Symphony, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Victoria Orchestra Melbourne and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

A regular guest at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, where he has led numerous productions, including Zemlinsky’s Der Traumgorge and von Walterhausen’s rarely performed Oberst Chabert, Lacombe conducted the world premiere of Vladimir Cosma’s Marius et Fanny at the Opera de Marseille starring Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna. He has also led operatic productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Teatro Regio in Turin and Opera de Monte-Carlo, along with opera companies in Milwaukee, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver.

He has recorded for the Analekta label and has been broadcast on PBS, the CBC, Arte TV in France and on Hungarian Radio-Television.

Born in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Lacombe received his musical training at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montreal and at the Hochschule for Musik in Vienna.

For high-resolution artist photos, full bios and program notes, visit .

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is comprised of some of the country’s finest musicians. The Orchestra is proud to have Jacques Lacombe as its Music Director and Neeme Jarvi as its Conductor Laureate. Artistic excellence, innovative programming and community engagement are hallmarks of its mission. To best serve the people of New Jersey, the orchestra brings its programs to seven outstanding venues throughout the state. Education and community engagement programs enrich the listening experience for children and adults alike. Select performances of the NJSO are broadcast regionally on WWFM and throughout North America. United Airlines is the official airline of the NJSO.

For more information about the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, visit or e-mail . Tickets are available for purchase by phone 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) or on the Orchestra’s website.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by The New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors.

For venue contact information, directions and information about public transportation, parking, dining options and more, visit .

... Payvand News - 02/25/11 ... --

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