February 2009

Reza Manbachi with Chakavak Ensemble The Journey of Love CD release
February 7, 2009 Hart House Toronto
Love is in the Air at Hart House
by Laila Boulos
It was a week before Valentine’s Day and over a month before Winter Nowruz or Norooz, the Persian New Year*, but the warmth of Hart House's Arbor Room (Sammy's Exchange) was set to high with red and white carnations strewn across the stage and candle-adorned tables filling the room for the Chakavak Ensemble’s concert to promote the release of their new CD, The Journey of Love.

As one of The Journey of Love tour guides of the evening, Rosa Mohammedi, poured love from the stage. Along with her co-host, Arian Shojai, Ms. Mohammedi provided welcoming and heartfelt (Persian, Farsi and English) commentary as she thanked supporters such as CIUT 89.5FM, CKLN 88.1FM and thatradio.com while stressing the importance of supporting this type of music in the community. One of the highlights of the evening was their moving recitation of Rumi's** famous poem, My Beloved Has Arrived.

As the Chakavak Ensemble opened with “Dawn of Love (Mehr)”, the mournful opening strains of cello and tar filled the air. A deep sense of history arrived with the subsequent layering of santoor as this Asian-influenced piece began the journey through the various stages of love.

Without taking a breath, these talented Iranian and Persian musicians skillfully pulled their audience into “Flame of Love (Charmezrâb Shooré Eshgh)” which began with a lively call-and-response interplay between the tar and santoor. The duet soon gave way to a percussive dream as the barbat was put aside in favour of the frame drum and fingers hammering along the underside of the santoor joined the tombak in an irresistible flamenco-drenched call to dance.

As they began the next piece, the unbearable burden of a heavy weight, reflected through instrumental imagery, overcame the room. Providing sharp contrast with this instrumental yearning were Reza’s clear and transparent vocals. As these vocals softened to almost a whisper, the tempo slowed and the other instruments faded out while the tar dove into a mesmerizing solo. Later, a playful dance between the santoor and tar rose from the stage and as the tar receded into the background, the resulting solo highlighted the music box fragility of the santoor. As both tempo and volume began to rise, the merging of instrumental depth and creative harmonies underscored the folkloric complexity of ”Abandonment (Del Shekan)”.

Reza Manbachi

Chakavak Ensemble
The final melody for the formal part of the performance, “My Beloved Has Arrived (Deldâr Rasidast)” was announced by the tombak and was awash with heavier, precise vocals and a pulsing tempo. As the melody progressed, the frame drum and tombak then became thunder to the rain of the combined shower of cello, santoor and tar.

The final piece of the evening, “Morghe Sahar”, is a popular Persian Iranian piece that has been performed by the celebrity Maestro Shajarian. This is an enchanting song that is very dear to the hearts of the Iranian and Persian people and this evening’s version was wonderfully executed by this group of musicians immersed in their craft.

These talented musicians who are visibly mesmerized and mesmerizing in performance, are currently on tour to publicize the release of their compact disc, The Journey of Love which is being promoted as an intoxicating love story between the soul and spirit, highlighting that a destiny leading to the Beloved requires one to reach this inner state. Who can resist?

Chakavak Ensemble
Reza Manbachi – Artistic Director, tar, setar (Persian lutes), vocals
Amir Manbachi – frame drum, tombak, vocals
Amaan Mehrabian – santoor (Persian dulcimer)
Nargol Rezvani – cello
Arsalan Alizadeh – barbat (Persian bass lute), vocals
We welcome your comments and feedback
Laila Boulos
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