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  • Sep. 27, 2008
  • The Hollywood Bowl’s First-Ever Concert Dedicated to Persian Culture Also Features The Kayhan Kalhor Ensemble, The Whirling Dervishes of Damascus with Sheikh Hamza Chakour and Ensemble Al-Kindi; The Qaderi Dervishes of Kurdistan; Nour Mohammad Dorpour; Poetry Readings by Shohreh Aghdashloo and Iraj Gorgin; and Live Calligraphy by Ostad Kaboli

    SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2008 AT 7:30 PM

    This concert is a Lexus Passionate Performance; Media Sponsor: KCET

    The LA Phil presents an extraordinary celebration of the 13th century Persian Sufi poet Rumi (Mowlana Jalal-e Din Rumi), one of the world’s most beloved cultural figures and compassionate humanists for over 800 years, and the music, song and dance of Iran and beyond. More than 20 artists, 8 making their U.S. debuts, participate in this unprecedented celebration of Persian music and culture. Special guests The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma perform, along with the Kayhan Kalhor Ensemble, The Whirling Dervishes of Damascus with Sheikh Hamza Chakour and The Ensemble Al-Kindi, The Qaderi Dervishes of Kurdistan, and Nour Mohammad Dorpour on Saturday, September 27, at 7:30 p.m.

    The evening’s event features Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble performing Kayahn Kalhor’s acclaimed Blue as the Turquoise Night of Neyshabur, an homage to the ancient city along the Silk Road, known as Greater Khorasan in eastern Iran - which is also Rumi’s birthplace, and the cradle of modern Persian literary and artistic culture. The Kayhan Kalhor Ensemble performs new interpretations of Persian classical music with artists on kamancheh, ney, santur, tar and percussion with the US debut of Hamid Reza Nourbakhsh, a brilliant vocalist of the new generation. Demonstrating Rumi’s influence beyond Iran and Turkey, the evening includes The Whirling Dervishes of Damascus with Sheikh Hamza Chakour and Ensemble Al-Kindi, presenting the famed whirling dervish dance said to have derived from Rumi’s spontaneous poetic outpourings. The trance state that is reached through the spinning is a type of meditation that is said to create a direct and complete union with the divine. The Dervishes continuously spin to the left, hands raised in prayerful gesture, often with the right hand elevated towards heaven and the left curved towards the earth. Making their U.S debuts are the great troubadour Nour Mohammad Dorpour, from Southern Khorasan, known for his extraordinary renditions of songs performed to Rumi’s poetry; the Qaderi Dervishes of Kurdistan, who perform an ancient mystical Sufi ritual that includes entrancing zikr ceremonial chants of Rumi’s poetry with percussion and ecstatic body movement.

    Complementing this inspirational musical journey are poetry readings of Rumi’s works, in both English and Persian, by Academy Award-nominated Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo and veteran Iranian radio and television personality Iraj Gorgin. Rumi’s poetry is also set to live calligraphy projections from the inspired hand of calligrapher Ostad Kaboli, one of Iran’s best known calligraphers.

    Rumi’s works have transcended national and ethnic borders for centuries. His Sufi (mystical branch of Islam) poetry, although written in Persian, has been translated into many of the world’s languages and has significantly influenced history’s greatest artists, writers and thinkers. BBC News has described him as the "most popular poet in America." His diverse followers are attracted by his tributes to the power of love (a spiritual love, not earthly love) and his belief in the spiritual use of music and dancing. Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dancing as a path to enlightenment. For him, music helped to reach an enlightened state, an intense journey in which the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. Amongst many Sufis he is considered a prophet, yet without endorsing any specific religion.

    Today, his poems can be heard everywhere from religious ceremonies to mainstream pop music (recordings of Rumi’s poems have made it to the Billboard Top 20 list). For one night only at the Hollywood Bowl, A Celebration of Rumi: The Sights and Sounds of Mystic Persia unites diverse communities, and as Rumi’s work has done for centuries, celebrates messages of global peace and harmony.

    The many-faceted career of cellist YO-YO MA is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate with audiences, and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. One of Mr. Ma's goals is the exploration of music as a means of communication, and as a vehicle for the migrations of ideas, across a range of cultures throughout the world. Expanding upon this interest, in 1998 Mr. Ma established the Silk Road Project, a not-for-profit organization founded to promote the study of the cultural, artistic and intellectual traditions along the ancient Silk Road trade route that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Ma’s discography of over 75 albums, including more than 15 Grammy award winners, reflects his wide-ranging interests, including Hush with Bobby McFerrin, Appalachia Waltz and Appalachian Journey with Mark O'Connor and Edgar Meyer and two Grammy-winning tributes to the music of Brazil, Obrigado Brazil and Obrigado Brazil - Live in Concert. Ma's most recent recordings include Silk Road Journeys: New Impossibilities with the Silk Road Ensemble, Appassionato, and Paris: La Belle époque, with pianist Kathryn Stott; he also appears on John Williams' soundtrack for Rob Marshall's film Memoirs of a Geisha. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006) and the Sonning Prize (2006). Yo-Yo Ma is strongly committed to educational programs that not only bring young audiences into contact with music but also allow them to participate in its creation. While touring, he takes time whenever possible to conduct master classes as well as more informal programs for students-musicians and non-musicians alike.

    Intrinsically tied to he Silk Road Project is the SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE, a collective of internationally renowned artists and musicians interested in exploring the relationship between tradition and innovation in music from the East and West. The Ensemble has reached thousands of people at sold-out performances throughout Europe, Asia and North America.

    A prominent actress on both stage and screen, SHOHREH AGHDASHLOO has portrayed a vast array of complex and powerful characters throughout her career. Born in Tehran in 1952 to an intellectual, creative family, Aghdashloo was drawn to the theater at an early age, and by her twenties was performing in various cutting-edge performance groups and films including socially progressive productions Gozaresh and Sute-Delan. Her film work includes roles in such topical dramas as America So Beautiful, Maryam, The Nativity Story, The Lake House, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, American Dreamz, X-Men: The Last Stand and House of Sand and Fog, which earned her an Academy Award nomination. Aghdashloo has recently completed work on the BBC/HBO mini-series Between Two Rivers, in which she portrays Sadaam Hussein’s wife Sajida. She has also made guest appearances ER, Will & Grace and the award-winning television drama, 24. Aghdashloo currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

    Founded in 1983 by virtuoso of the Arab qânun (zither) Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss, the AL-KINDI ENSEMBLE is considered one of the leading groups devoted to classical Arab music. Al-Kindi has infused new life into classical Arab music by encouraging creativity and freedom to the performers who compose the ensemble. Members of the ensemble include Mohamed Qadri Dalal on ‘ud (plucked lute); Ziad Kadi Amin on ney (flute); Adel Shams el-Din on riqq (percussionist), vocalists Suleyman Al-Khichn and Abdallah Chakour and artistic director and on qânun Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss. Al Kindi is joined by the powerful vocalist Sheikh Hamza CHAKOUR. Born in Damascus in 1947, Hamza Chakour is a muqri (Koran reader) and a munshid (hymnodist). His task is to assure the continuity of the repertory belonging to the Mawlawiya Sufi order (in Turkey this is known as Mevlevi, more familiar in the West as the "whirling dervishes"). Hamza Chakour serves at official religious ceremonies in Syria and is the choir master of the Great Ummayad Mosque in Damascus. He develops his improvisations within the framework of a centuries-old modal art, where oration blends with dance, and prayer with art. Far from being fundamentalist, the Islam he represents is that of mysticism and happiness in the Faith. They are joined by the famed WHIRLING DERVISHES OF DAMASCUS whose tradition dates back to early 9th century when the Muslim mystics organized their Sufi orders and adopted music as meditation and as a means to reach the state of ecstasy. The Mawlawiya Sufi order that these Dervishes belong to was founded in Konya (Anatolia) by Rumi, who created the whirling dance you will see tonight.

    Master vocalist and dotar (lute) player, Nour Mohammad Dorpour is one of the most respected singers of mystical Sufi song from Southern Khorasan in the Northeast of Iran. As a bard and mystic, Dorpour has a repertoire of literally several thousand lyrics of mystic songs which he memorizes. He is best-known for his recitations of the poetry of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi, also known as Rumi. He accompanies himself on the dotar,Dorpour, a Turkman, belongs to the Naqshbandieh Sufi sect. The Naqshbandi order is notable as the only Sufi order to trace its spiritual lineage to Muhammad through Abu Bakr, the first caliph. A historic 3-CD collection of Dorpour’s recordings has been released in Iran. This performance marks his debut appearance outside of Iran.

    The voice of Iraj Gorgin is equally familiar to many Iranians as the standard poetic repertoire of classical and contemporary master writers. Gorgin's reading of Golestan of Sa'di, the great poet, writer and social critic of the 13th century was praised by many literary critics as a standard bearer for translation of classical Persian literature. The first volume of his Anthology of Contemporary Persian Poetry has been lauded by poetry enthusiasts. A veteran journalist and radio and television personality, Gorgin studied Persian Literature at Tehran University and received his Master of Arts degree in Communications Management from Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. Gorgin currently lives in Europe and works as a journalist.

    KAYHAN KALHOR, is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso on the kamancheh (Persian spiked fiddle). His solo performances of Persian music and his many collaborations have attracted audiences around the globe. Born in Tehran, Iran, he began his musical studies at the age of seven. He performed with the prestigious National Orchestra of Radio and Television of Iran and the Shayda Ensemble of the Chavosh Cultural Center while still a teenager. Deeply devoted to the Iranian classical repertoire (radif), he was further inspired to study regional folkloric traditions, which added additional dimensions to his improvisations and acted as springboards for inter-cultural explorations. Since then, Kayhan has performed and recorded with Iran’s greatest singers including Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri, and instrumentalists and toured the world as a soloist. He co-founded the Dastan, Ghazal: Persian & Indian Improvisations and Masters of Persian Music ensembles and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de Lyon, and others. Kayhan has created new scores and his music has been used for various television and film projects. He was featured soloist on the soundtrack of Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, a score he collaborated on with Osvaldo Golijov. In 2004, he gave a solo recital at Carnegie Hall as part of American composer John Adams’ “Perspectives” series and, later that year, shared a double bill at Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart” Festival. Kayhan is an original member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project and his works are heard on all of the Ensemble’s albums. Three of his thirteen recordings have been nominated for Grammy Awards. His new CD Silent City, with the innovative ensemble Brooklyn Rider, is just out on the World Village label. Kayhan will be joined by tar (lute) players Fariborz Azizi and Sahba Motalebi, Pejman Hadadi (tombak-percussion), Siamak Jahangiry (ney-flute), and Siamak Aghaie (santur-hammered dulcimer) and making his US debut HAMID REZA NOURBAKHSH, considered one of today's most remarkable Iranian vocalists. Nourbakhsh studied under the supervision of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a living legend in Iranian classical music. He has performed with several renowned artists and groups including the Shams Ensemble and Aref Ensemble as well as with the Ukraine Philharmonic orchestra and santur maestro Faramarz Payvar. He has performed with Kayhan Kalhor at The Théâtre de la Ville in Paris and is destined to carry on the timeless tradition of Persian classical music for many years to come.

    THE QADERI DERVISHES invited for this program consist of five members from the Qaderi Sufi order from Kurdistan in Western Iran and are from this selseleh clan. Their symbol is a red scarf worn around the waist. The Qaderi Sufis are Sunnis and are very strict in their spiritual beliefs. It is the extraordinary tradition of this Sufi Order for the participants to perform madhh and zikr (repetition of a word or sentence to enter a state of trance) with musical accompaniment. Madhhs are collections of energetic melodies combined with sung poetry and sayings of the great Mystics. The use of music in combination with percussion instruments and collective singing produces an ecstatic state in which the participants gain greater understanding and closeness to Spiritual enlightenment. For this program we will hear poems from Mowlana in the form of madh and sama Sufi songs accompanied by daf (frame drum), tas (double bronze kettle drum) and vocals. The Qaderi Dervishes of Kurdistan are Khalifeh Seyed Ebrahim Rezvan (Baba Khalifeh), leader and vocalist; Mohammad Meymanat, lead vocals and tas (percussion); Farzad Sa’edi, daf (frame drum) and vocals; Mowlood Mohammadnia, daf and vocals; Mokhtar Zand Salimi, daf and vocals.

    One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the HOLLYWOOD BOWL has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922, and in 1991 gave its name to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in the musical life of Southern California. The 2004 season introduced audiences to a revitalized Hollywood Bowl, featuring a newly-constructed shell and stage and the addition of four stadium screens enhancing stage views in the venue. To this day, $1 buys a seat at the top of the Bowl for many of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's concerts. While the Bowl is best known for its sizzling summer nights, during the day California's youngest patrons enjoy "SummerSounds: Music for Kids at the Hollywood Bowl," the Southland's most popular summer arts festival for children, now in its 40th season. Attendance figures over the past several decades have soared: in 1980 the Bowl first topped the half-million mark and close to one million admissions have been recorded. In February 2008, the Hollywood Bowl was named Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue for the fourth year in a row at the 19th Annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards. The Bowl's summer music festival has become as much a part of a Southern California summer as beaches and barbecues, the Dodgers, and Disneyland.


    SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2008, at 7:30 PM

    HOLLYWOOD BOWL, 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood


    The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, special guests

    Kayhan Kalhor Ensemble

    The Whirling Dervishes of Damascus with Sheikh Hamza Chakour & Ensemble Al-Kindi

    The Qaderi Dervishes of Kurdistan

    Nour Mohammad Dorpour

    Ostad Kaboli, calligrapher

    Shohreh Aghdashloo, poetry reader

    Iraj Gorgin, poetry reader

    This concert is a Lexus Passionate Performance
    Media sponsor: KCET

    Tickets ($15 - $125) are on sale now at, at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office (Tuesday–Saturday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.), or by calling Ticketmaster at 213.480.3232, and at all Ticketmaster outlets. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for a 20% discount, subject to availability; call 323.850.2050 for further details. For general information or to request a brochure, call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Lisa Bellamore,, 213.972.3689; For photos: 213.972.3034