This week on Choral Concert we will feature the Vancouver-based Elektra Women’s Choir and their adventurous foray into Farsi poetry.

Elektra has taken many adventurous turns in their music over the past quarter century, and the centrepiece in this concert is no exception – it’s an exotic, thrilling and evocative work by Abbie Betinis called From behind the Caravan: songs of Hafez. It’s set in Farsi, the language of Persia.

The words are by Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī, the author of almost 400 poems called Ghazals.

Ghazals are lyric poems in the Sufi tradition about longing for truth, love, kindness and ultimately for the Beloved. It’s beautiful stuff.

Abbie Betinis is not Persian, she’s American, but she pushed herself to hear the qualities of these words, to let them evoke sounds and images that express this deep and rich culture. One image that rushed upon her was “a distant memory of being four years old and dancing – joyfully and tirelessly – to music that whirled feverishly around me.”

In this sample you’ll hear the choir along with oud player Navid Goldrick, Ariel Barnes on cello (beautifully played I might add) and percussionist Liam Macdonald. The Elektra Women’s Choir is led by Morna Edmunson:

Listen here



Choral Concert, the women’s edition: with the Elektra Women’s Choir led by Morna Edmunson. Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m. (9:30 - 11:30 NT) on CBC Radio 2.


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posted by Jeff Reilly on Mar 01, 2013