Operatic Feminism:An event that bridges the worlds of scholarship, performance, and criticism to think through the possibilities for feminist opera studies and women in opera in the twenty-first century
Niloufar Nourbakhsh: “I want to share about Seattle Opera’s ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by composer Sheila Silver and libretto by Stephen Kitsakos, based on the book by Khaled Hosseini, and how for this world premiere at Seattle Opera, they did something very unique.
“They took a risk by deciding to work with a stage director, Roya Sadat, who had never staged an opera in her life. I think this is significant, and I hope more producers and opera companies can feel empowered to take these risks where they can bring in people who are not necessarily in opera but who are wonderful artists with a vision. Roya Sadat has done an amazing job, and I want to see more risks taken like this.”
Niloufar Nourbakhsh speaks on BBC Newsday on the 100th day of Woman Life Freedom Revolution that started after the murder of Mahsa Zhina Amini while in custody of the Islamic Regime’s Morality Police. Listen to the full segment HERE
ALL ARTS from PBS has published their segment on opera “We the innumerable” that was co-presented by Center for Contemporary Opera and National Sawdust with support from 2019 Opera America Discovery Grant.
Nourbakhsh’s three-movement “C Ce See”— a commemoration of the contemporary music advocate Cecille (Cece) Wasserman — closed the program. And it employed a conceit reminiscent of the Fluxus movement, courtesy of a kinetic sculpture, by the artist Roxanne Nesbitt, that circled six instrumentalists and sometimes made sounds with them; picture small conical objects rotating, in Rube Goldberg fashion, among string players and percussionists, with all those elements connected by a long, single thread manipulated by the percussionist Ross Karre.
In the first and second movements, the result of that string-on-string interference was often a hazy yet interdependent din. But at the end of the second movement, when the conductor, Steven Schick, dramatically cut the wires snaking through the string instruments (and into the rotating mini-sculptures), there was a sense of release. The short third movement — featuring scalar, zigzagging, independent parts for flute, vibraphone and strings — heralded a brief but hard-won freedom.
Comparing the events of 2009 to protests happening now in Iran in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini, Nourbakhsh said she feels the need to “protect the truth of what happened to [Amini].”
“I think it’s important for us to understand and realize our history, and how things happened, to make sure they don’t happen again,” she said. And she is optimistic, finding hope in the slogan of the recent protests: “Women. Life. Freedom.”
She emphasizes the significance of a movement out of the Middle East that has women at the center. For Nourbakhsh, it demonstrates that the people of Iran understand “equality and freedom is only possible when everybody is free.”
New Music USA awards a small number of Partnership Grants to complement funding available through open calls and fixed deadlines. Recipients represent exceptional artist-led initiatives that align with the priorities of our Creator and Organizational Development Funds by providing music creators and individual artists with unique opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and peer learning. Congratulations to the organizations Luna Composition Lab and M³ (Mutual Mentorship for Musicians), which received awards to support their immersive and impactful work in the new music community. As was announced this spring with the 2022 Creator Development Fund recipients, creator Niloufar Nourbakhsh has also received a Partnership Grant to support her work with the ANIM Composition Residency.
New Music USA Announces 100 More Awardees in its 10th Anniversary Year
For the second edition of ANIM Composition Residency, William Harvey has been commissioned to write a new work “Saudade do Afeganistão”, that will be premiered by Afghan Youth Orchestra on October 1st 2022 at Gulbenkian Centre.
Iranian violist Kimia Hesabi releases her debut album of music by composers of the Iranian Diaspora, featuring works for solo viola, viola and electronics, viola and voice, and viola and piano. The recording explores her passion for the music of her home country through a range of sounds, colors, stories, memories, and identities inspired in different and unique ways by Iran.
Veiled for viola and electronics was composed by Niloufar Nourbakhsh and inspired by two specific subjects: the hijab and the “veiled” presence of women in Iran. “The covered hair is a metaphor in general for women’s presence in the society…on the other hand, I used the meaning and concept of “veiled” in creating sounds from the instrument that “dissolve” or are “covered” in various ways”. In 2017, a series of protests known as the Girls of Enghelab Street (Revolution Street) movement took place against the compulsory hijab for women in Iran. Nourbakhsh recalls being moved by this event and the tragedy and violence it provoked, and was motivated to center Veiled on it.
During the final round of the competition, Nourkbakhsh presented “Threshold of Brightness.” Written by Lisa Flanagan and directed by Shadi Ghaheri, the work follows controversial Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad “as she is seriously injured in a car crash and enters a dream-like state where she reckons with the ghosts of her past.”
Nourbakhsh is a pianist and composer who was a 2019 recipient of Opera America’s Discovery Grant. Her compositions include the opera “We the Innumerable” as well as the song cycle “Darkness of the Womb” for soprano and vocoder.
“Niloufar Nourbakhsh has demonstrated extraordinary skill in musical and theatrical storytelling. We are thrilled to announce that BMP will be commissioning Niloufar for a full evening-length opera-theatre work that will be developed and produced by BMP over the coming seasons. We look forward to sharing her world premiere with all of you in the future,” said an official statement by the company’s founder Beth Morrison and Executive Director Jecca Barry.
PRIMAVERA II the rabbits is the second of six albums in a momentous series encompassing 81 world premieres for solo cello. This digital album presents 13 new commissions by The Primavera Project for groundbreaking, multi-GRAMMY nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz. Each composer responds to Sandro Botticelli’s enigmatic painting, Primavera, and the prophetic large-scale triptych, Primavera 2020, by world-renowned contemporary artist Charline von Heyl.
The album takes its name from the rabbit trilogy motif in Charline von Heyl’s work. In Primavera 2020, the rabbits join the dancing graces, referencing centuries of symbolism: eternity, rebirth, fertility, and vitality. Niloufar Nourbakhsh depicts this communal ecstasy in her Cyclical Rabbits, incorporating Persian modes and oud-like strumming.
This is a digital-only album, not available as a physical product.
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