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Bam from Chakavak Ensemble

Though I know a bit about Persian culture last Saturday I felt wonderfully engulfed in it. The Chakavak Ensemble gave a benefit concert dedicated to the memory of the city of Bam that was stuck by an earthquake on December 26, 2003. The earthquake killed many including classical vocalist Iraj Bastami whose name was evoked during this brilliant performance. Funds raised by the benefit the Bam Art Garden Complex, envisioned to include a school of music, library, art gallery, and garden.

Chakavak Emsemble is made up of the handsome Director Reza Manbachi (tar, setar), Amaan Mehrabian (santur), Amir Manbachi (bass-tar), Arash Javadpour (tar), Araz Pashayee (tombak), Babak Divani (daf), Kousha Nakhaei (kamancheh) and Raman Miteran(voice). They were joined by Robert Simms (tambur, ney, oud)

Did I mention that the performance was brilliant? All the musicians were in top form. Major kudos to Miteran who possesses a voice like butter. His soulful rendition of Parviz Meshatian's Vatan-Man brought tears to the eyes of many and was a balm to my very soul. Sadly, there is no CD available -- I hope that the ensemble will cave in to public pressure and get one produced as I know that it would sell out.

If there was one negative it was the venue. Every step made in the Harbourfront Centre Theatre echoes. And would somebody tell the ushers that latecomers should be not be let in until a song is done?

But in truth the best part of the concert was the hospitality of the audience. I had several people offer to translate for me -- not in a tone of condescension but one of pride as they truly wanted to share the music with me.

And at the second encore, as the Ensemble lead the audience in a resounding Ey Iran , I was reminded we have much more to learn of and from the people of Iran who now call Toronto home.


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