The Stars Align.
There’s a very exciting concert ahead. I’ve been asked: Just how did this concert ever come to exist? Here’s the story:
Back in 2010, I received an unsolicited visit from Monika Jalili, a singer of Iranian/Persian music about having the School of Music donate space for a concert. Instead of a single act of charity, it was apparent that there was an opportunity to do something more. As Monika and I talked, it became clear that instead of a small ensemble concert, a more exciting collaboration might take place with orchestra. Those discussions led to a performance in 2013 with the Salt Lake Symphony of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with Monika and her ensemble filling in between movements with traditional and popular music from the Middle East. We only had one music chart for orchestra to play along with her group back then, but even still, it was a great success. We all left the performance knowing that a future collaboration was possible sometime in the future.
Fast forward to this year, and thanks to Monika’s work getting the UofU Middle East Center onboard, and my securing a teaching grant, this concert is now a reality. The University of Utah Philharmonia will present this concert of music from the Middle East, by composers with Middle Eastern connections. (The only exception being Respighi’s Belkis: Queen of Sheba Suite, which has nonetheless has a historical and sonic roots firmly rooted there). Other music on the program includes a piece by Shalan Alhamwy, a Syrian refugee, titled Two Images from Aleppo (Thanks to my former student Mindi Davis-Loewen for introducing me to Shalan and his music); Mohammed Fairouz’s Pax Universalis; and six selections with Monika and her most versatile ensemble, Megan Gould (violin), Zeb Gould (guitar), and Shane Shanahan (percussion – and a musician with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble). Arrangements of those pieces are by Megan Gould and Jamshied Sharifi (who recently won a Tony for his orchestrations for the musical, The Band’s Visit).
But there is MORE. We’ve just learned that we will have members of several refugee communities in attendance at the concert. There will be a major video shoot as well. We are getting attention from places far and wide for our program. That is gratifying, to say the least.
This is a concert that is in the true spirit of collaboration: performing musicians (soloists and orchestra), support staff, outside organizations, administrative personnel, and the composers and arrangers. Now all that is left to ask, is that you join us for this special performance. It’s on December 6, smack in the middle of the “holiday” season. There is no White Christmas, Silent Night, or Nutcracker on the program, but there will be a great deal of the goodwill that makes this time of year special for people from around the globe. I am happy that we can reach out in this way with this unique and moving concert. Hope to see you there. If you cannot make it. Please join us online at: https://music.utah.edu/libby-live/index.php
The Utah Philharmonia presents “The Sands of Time: Journey Through the Middle East” with special guests, Monika Jalili and ensemble: Shane Shanahan, Megan Gould, and Zeb Gould. Works to be performed include Ottorino Respighi’s “Belkis Queen of Sheba Suite,” Shalan Alhamwy’s “Two Images from Aleppo”, and Mohammed Fairouz’s “Pax Universalis.” Monika Jalili and ensemble will also perform Persian songs accompanied by the Utah Philharmonic. This event is in partnership with the University of Utah Middle East Center.