Posts Tagged ‘Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat’
Photography by Haydn Wheeler
Jo Frost revels in some extra special encounters
The second night of Songlines Encounters Festival started with a screening of the excellent documentary film, Sisters, by Andrew Smith, about Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat from Iran. It shows them at home in Tehran, talking about the ancient Persian poems they sing and the censorship they face. It’s a beautiful, reflective insight into their lives.
Following this in Hall One was the Scottish fiddler Duncan Chisholm (featured in #106) who really conjured up the atmosphere and beauty of his home in the Highlands. Superbly accompanied by fellow Scot Matheu Watson on guitar and Jarlath Henderson on uilleann pipes and flute, Chisholm’s playing has a real grace and delicacy. His trio of albums, The Strathglass Trilogy are named after the glens of Affric, Farrar and Cannich where the Chisholm clan have lived for 700 years.
Following the trio in the second half, were the aforementioned sisters, Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat (featured in #107). They are normally accompanied by musicians, but on this occasion Mahsa played the setar (Iranian lute) and Marjan, the daf (hand-held drum). But most of the time, it was just the voices – strong, deeply intense and when they sing together, the harmonies are exquisite and enthralling in the way that only two siblings who have been singing together all their lives can be. “To sing a capella, you feel completely naked,” said Mahsa at one point, and it’s true, the sheer power and sentiment conveyed is remarkable.
One of the aims of Songlines Encounters Festival has been to try and encourage the artists – regardless of their origin and musical traditions – to perform together, to create a real musical encounter. Of course, these sorts of collaborations cannot be forced and have to happen naturally, albeit with a little help and suggestion from Songlines. So it was incredibly gratifying to see Chisholm, Henderson and Watson joining the sisters onstage for two songs, including ‘The Moon of our Beloved’s Face’ by Iran’s national poet, Hafez. “It was hard not to be mesmerised by their voices,” said Watson afterwards. But the subtle addition of the trio’s Gaelic melodies brought another beautiful and intricate layer to the songs and the soaring flute and violin a gorgeous lightness, perfectly appropriate for their final song, ‘Twinklings of Hope’.
After such an intense and emotive set, it came as a bit of shock to wander into Hall Two and find Afriquoi (featured in #108) were bringing the house down with their full-on, African party music. The band’s energy onstage is infectious and the fast and furious rhythms on an array of instruments, including the Congolese guitarist Fiston Lusambo and kora played by Gambian Jally Kebba Susso, brought the evening to a rousing and glowing end.
For the first time in its five-year history, Songlines Encounters will tour venues around the UK
This years Songlines Encounters Festival at London’s Kings Place (June 4-6) features musicians from Portugal, Cyprus, Iran, the UK and Bangladesh. There are some UK premieres, some first-time collaborations and lots of supremely inspirational music. As ever with Songlines Encounters, the idea is to discover something new and memorable. Visit the Encounters website to find out more. The festival is co-curated by Songlines magazine and Ikon Arts Management.
Portugal’s rising fado star Gisela João, Iranian sisters Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat and progressive Cypriot trio Monsieur Doumani will tour as part of Songlines Encounters On Tour.
Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat
May 30 Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham
May 31 Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea
June 1 MWLDAN, Cardigan
June 3 The Met, Bury
June 4 Songlines Encounters Festival at Kings Place, London
June 5 The Hothouse, Morecambe
June 6 Unity Works, Wakefield
Photography by Mário Pires
Celebrating its fifth year Songlines Encounters Festival features musicians from Portugal, Cyprus, Iran, the UK and Bangladesh.
Taking place from June 4-6 at London’s Kings Place, Songlines Encounters Festival will feature UK premieres, first-time collaborations and lots of supremely inspirational music. There will also be film screenings, talks and free foyer performances. The festival is co-curated by Songlines magazine and Ikon Arts Management.
We are also delighted to announce that for the first time Songlines Encounters will be going on tour throughout the country. Visit Ikon Arts to find out where we will be travelling to.
Thursday June 4, Hall 1, 8:00pm
Monsieur Doumani (on tour)
The trio Monsieur Doumani play Cypriot music – both their own and traditional – with humour and panache. This show launches their new album Sikoses.
Gisela João (on tour)
The new fado singer that Portugal is raving about. Her debut recording was an album of the year in Portugal. Expect traditional fado at its very best in this UK premiere.
Friday June 5, Hall 1, 7:30pm
With six solo albums behind him, Chisholm is one of Scotland’s great fiddlers (read more in the March #106 issue). Traditional and contemporary music from the Highland glens.
Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat (on tour)
These sisters are like no other singing duo you’ve heard. Their voices interweave so beautifully, you’d never guess they’re forbidden to sing publicly back home in Iran. They will also do a special Songlines Encounters collaboration with Duncan Chisholm.
Friday June 5, Hall 2, 9:30pm
One of Britain’s great electro-African dance bands with live vocals, kora, guitar and percussion with electronics drawing on house, dubstep and hip-hop.
Saturday June 6, Hall 1, 2:00pm
She’Koyokh: Kids Concert
Join Britain’s best klezmer band She’Koyokh for a participatory concert for children, introducing music from Eastern Europe with stories, singing and dancing!
Saturday June 6, Hall 1, 7:30PM
Shikor Bangladesh All Stars & Lokkhi Terra
The Shikor Bangladesh All Stars feature seven of the best traditional musicians from Bangladesh, including folk singer Baby Akhtar, dhol drummer Nazrul Islam and maestro of Baul music Rob Fakir. In part two of this concert, the All Stars join together with the Anglo-Bangladeshi group Lokkhi Terra. This UK premiere brings Songlines Encounters Festival a danceable finale as the roots of Bangladesh meet Latin dance rhythms and the urban jungle.