Monday, December 28, 2009

More questions than answers


Is identity theft a problem in post-communist classical music? Well, Collegium Musicum, which claims to represent many notable Bulgarian and East European musicians, certainly thinks so. Here is what their website says, complete with typos:
Stop the abuse of the Bulgarian musical institutions - The reputation and prestige of Bulgarian musicians abroad is ruined by scrupless people. It happens often abroad where groups of musicians with suspicious quality are presented in the name of Bulgarian musical institutions deceiving both the audience and the host organization.

A commission has been found in accordance with the Bulgarian musical institutions and communicating directly to Ministry of culture to lodge complaints against such charlatans. Many of these deceivers has been blocked by now. Victims of such a deceive are „Sofia Festival Orchestra”, “National opera and ballet Sofia”, “Sofia Philharmonie”, Opera and philharmonic society-Plovdiv” and “Symphony orchestra of Sliven”.

In case you have such information just contact us! Help us to expose the deceivers! Official information of such cases will be published as soon as possible to attract the attention of the host organizations including theaters, associations, foundations etc. that are unaware of such cases and give stage to the deceivers.
I found Collegium Musicum when it backlinked to my article about Emil Tchakarov, and the website carries a very useful tribute to the Bulgarian conductor.

Iran is in the news right now, and in that troubled country there are some different questions about musical identities. The path starts with a post in February 2009 in which I wrote:
But western classical music lives on in Iran today. American composer and blogger Jeff Harrington reports that the Iranian conductor Keyvan Yahya is planning to perform his First and Second Symphonies with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra's recent work has included a concert to commemorate the late Ayatolla Khomeini. There is very little information on the conductor; however an unverified Wikipedia entry states ...
Shortly after I published my piece, fellow blogger Robert Marshall followed up with a linked post. Within the last few days Robert has received anonymous comments on his blog discrediting Keyvan Yahya. Robert also reports that in the Wikipedia article on the music of Iran the paragraph on Keyvan Yahya has recently been removed by what appears to be an Iranian user. In addition the Wikipedia page on the Satrap Philharmonic, which Yahya was credited as founding, has been deleted with a comment claiming that the orchestra does not exist.

To try to get to the bottom of this mystery I contacted Jeff Harrington in the States. Jeff reports that Keyvan Yahya sent emails about rehearsals and the Tehran performance in May 2009. But subsequent requests for reviews, recordings or promotional materials have gone unanswered, which Jeff thought may have been due to the continuing turmoil caused by the Iranian elections. Confused? So am I. Clearly there are more questions than answers on this story and clarification from readers with Iranian connections would be very welcome: but please, no anonymous comments.


Iran also poses more musical questions in the form of the CD seen above. Last summer I received this review copy of finished discs of a 108 minute oratorio by Iranian composer Saeed Sharifian titled Eclipse. This sets a Farsi text which, according to the accompanying material, is about the tragedy of Ashura. The oratorio is scored for orchestra, traditional Persian singer and, unusually for a work dealing with an Islamic subject, uses female voices in the soprano and mezzo registers. PR material accompanying the Eclipse discs says the oratorio is -
the first ever written religous symphonic work in the 1400 year history of the Islamic culture ... It received its premiere in the Tehran Opera House in 2003, breaking many social and cultural barriers, achieving outstanding ticket sales and huge popularity.
Eclipse is scored for Western orchestra and the tonal writing is largely derivative except for the sections using the Farsi singer. The oratorio was recorded in Romania in 2005 by the Oltenia Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra conducted by Alessandru Iosub and the associated performances are noted on the orchestra's website. The copyright of the well-presented CD is attributed to Neydavood Inc, who do not appear to have an online presence. I have been unable to find any English language references to the Iranian performances, and, in an echo of Jeff Harrington's experience, requests for supporting evidence of the Tehran concerts have been unproductive. Verification of some other aspects of the Eclipse story would also be beneficial.

But there is no question that the recording of Eclipse exists and I met Saeed Sharifian, who now lives in England, briefly in July this year. You can buy the double CD here, and there are several excerpts from the oratorio on YouTube, including the one below.



Western classical music in pre-revolutionary Iran here, protest cinema here, an opera about Iranian civil rights abuses here and a woman's voice is forbidden in public here.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

2 comments:

Philip said...

I have no special knowledge re Keyvan Yahya, but as an historian whose bailiwick has at times encompassed the East, I certainly know the word 'satrap' -- formerly it was a title of local governors in the ancient empires of Persia; latterly, it was more loosely used to designate a state or government considered subordinate to one more powerful. Thus, "The four Persian satraps who accompanied their master's grandson were treated as ambassadors generally are," in a history of the Ottoman Empire from 1787, and the usage continued through the following century.

Given this, I am at a loss as to why anyone would give this name to an orchestra, let alone an orchestra in Iran, and even less an orchestra in Iran under present conditions. Very peculiar, at the least.

Keyvan Yahya said...

this is keyvan yahya and this is my personal webpage of university of birmingham.