I have posted six times on MEME. MEME and ME explains how I learned of this fantastic orchestra, became a part of it, and what it means to me. The other five times were profiles of musicians preceding the various concerts.
- MEME: Meet Edward and Eli
- MEME: Talking with Lama and Taylan
- MEME: Talking with Oya and Gilda
- The MEME Arab Concert - A Conversation with Sophia Uddin
- MEME: Talking with Elham and Hannah
The 2020 Persian Concert is Saturday, February 29. It is the only concert in which we do two performances. This year, the two concerts will both be on the same day with an early show at 3 pm and the second show at 7.
This unifying nature of music is even more special for the Persian Concert. Since the Iranian hostage which lasted from 1979 to 1981, relations between the US and Iran have been hostile, cold, or tense. US – Iranian relations were very tense in January when we began to practice for this concert. The US assassinated an Iranian General and the Iranians shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet. We were a little gloomy with worry that war would break out when we convened for practice. But, as we started to play, we all got lost in the camaraderie and enjoyment of playing.
I had a chance to watch a news report from Tehran. It was from December 21, 2019 and was about an Evening of Armenian Music performed by Iran’s National Orchestra. Composer and Maestro Loris Tjeknavorian was quoted as believing that “Music is the language of God and is understood by all people and needs no translation.” The Maestro articulated beautifully what the musicians in MEME firmly believe and feel.
In MEME, we celebrate all of the cultures of the music we play. We appreciate each other for our differences, backgrounds, and, ultimately, for our shared love for the music. We are proof that people can not only get along form wonderful friendships. We, well at least me, are reminded that differences and hatreds are bred by some government and organized religious leaders.
Of the three concerts, I knew the Persian music the least. I was familiar with the popular Iranian - Armenian singers Vigen and Andy. I have a CD of the famous chanteuse Hayedeh. But that was about it. The Persian standards I played were Shah Doomad and Chera Nemiragashi by Vigen and Gole Sangam. Playing in four Persian concerts has exposed me to the more classical side of the rich heritage that is Persian music.
My two favorite songs, over this past year, have been Jane Mayram and Morge Sahar. We have performed Jane Mayram three times and Morge Sahar every year in my participation in the Persian Concerts. Both are beautiful. I featured Jane Mayram on a piece I wrote about the passing of the renowned Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani.
Morge Sahar is a beautiful song. It is associated with the beloved Persian singer Mohammed Reza Shahjarian. Morge Sahar (Morning Bird) is a song set to a poem by Mohammad-Taqi Bahar (1886 – 1951). The English translation, which I am sure is only an approximation of the original, is:
morning bird, mourn, further renew my pain
with a sigh that rains fire, break this cage and overturn it
flightless nightingale, from the pine cage, sing humanity’s song of freedom
from the breath of the masses, fill the open earth with fire
oppression, the oppressor, the hunter’s oppression, it has left my nest dwindling in the wind
O god, O universe, O nature, make our dark evening into dawn
it’s a new a spring, the flowers have bloomed, the clouds in my eyes, are filled with dew
this cage, like my heart, is suffocated and dark
oh fiery sigh! start a flame in this cage,When Shajarian sings it people both cry and sing along. I have listened to this countless times and look forward to playing it in our practices and the February 29th concert I invite you to attend.
nature’s hand, don’t cut short the flower of my life
give the lover a look, my young flower, make it more!
you heartless bird, make it brief! make it brief, the story of separation