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Constantinople

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Paths to the Summit

Rediscovered treasures of Persian classical music.

Territory represented: Québec, Canada, USA, Asia

Paths to the Summit sheds light on an obscure period in Persian history, when large numbers of Iranian musicians migrated to the neighbouring Ottoman and Byzantine cultural centres during the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736).

These musical jewels, of great refinement and beauty, vividly evoke the Safavid court, which up to now we have only been able to imagine by contemplating the paintings and frescos of palaces in Esfahan, such as the Chehel Sotun.

While retracing this migration route, we came across manuscripts from the 16th to the 18th centuries, which annotated and preserved compositions by Iranian musicians from the era. These manuscripts had been kept for centuries in palace and monastery libraries in Turkey and Greece. They testify to the influence of Iranian music in these regions and the many fruitful exchanges between Iranian musicians and those from neighbouring countries. These sources open paths to reach and understand more the Iranian music prior to the 19th century (before dastgah).

These works have several features and particularities that distinguish them:
they are composed in the maqam system, with musical phrasings and formal developments that are distinctly Persian in coloration; they contain the complex ancient rhythmic cycles that disappeared from the Persian dastgah; they reveal the practice of singing exercises known as taranom, which we know only in theory and which are in some ways the predecessors of the tahrir found in post-19th century Persian music.

With the discovery and decoding of this repertoire, we shall be able to better understand the history of the art music of Iran and to reconstruct the broken bridge between the practices of its glorious past and those of its present.

In this project they are resurrected after centuries of silence, performed by some of today’s finest Iranian musicians and their colleagues from Turkey and Greece — as they were at the time of their creation.

Siamak Aghaei, santur and vocals (Iran)
Didem Başar, kanun (Turkey — Canada)
Kyriakos Kalaitzides, oud (Greece)
Kiya Tabassian, setar, vocals, direction
Pierre-Yves Martel, viola da gamba
Ziya Tabassian, tombak, percussion


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Agent (Festivals Québec, Canada, USA)

Dalla Porta d’Oriente

Territory represented: Québec, Canada, USA, Asia

Songs of the Italian, Ottoman and Persian renaissances are interwoven in an early-17th century manuscript from Constantinople entitled Majmua, by the Polish musician and orientaliste Albert Bobowski (Ali Ufki). In this source the author revels in shifting from one language to another and one music to another. Joined by Italian tenor Marco Beasley, Constantinople revisits the music of that period and recreates a bridge between European and Persian cultures.

  • Marco Beasley, Voice
  • Stefano Rocco, Theorbo, Baroque Guitar
  • Fabio Accurso, Lute
  • Didem Başar, Kanun
  • Pierre-Yves Martel, Viola da Gamba
  • Tanya Laferrière, Baroque Violin
  • Patrick Graham, Percussion
  • Kiya Tabassian, Setar, voice, leader

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Beyond the Horizon

Turning our ears to distant lands, toward imagination and illusion, we create the present moment.

Territory represented: Québec, Canada, USA, Asia

An unprecedented meeting between the deeply moving worlds of accordionist Didier Laloy and musical adventurer Kiya Tabassian, along with their respective cohorts, this new creation for the two duos will immerse you in a marvellously rich acoustic world, one of breathtaking originality and virtuosity.

75 minutes with no intermission.

  • Didier Lalon, diatonic accordion
  • Kathy Adam, cello
  • Kiya Tabassian, setar and voice
  • Didem Basar, kanun

Agent (Québec, Canada, USA, Asia)

Agent (Festivals Québec, Canada, USA)

Itinerant Gardens

Territory represented: Québec, Canada, USA, Asia

A poetic encounter between strings and voice, from the epics of the Mandingo Kingdom to the music of the Persian court…

“My garden is my work. My memory is the soil of my garden, which grows in this earth, spreads its roots and penetrates the soil to go elsewhere, to unite with the universe.”

— Kiya Tabassian

Everywhere, from time immemorial, the Word has been embodied by the bard, the troubadour, the griot. These wordsmiths, at once messengers and peacemakers, are the links with the forces of nature, the inexpressible divine, the memory of the ancients. It falls to them to maintain the realm of the collective soul.

Nowadays, these freethinkers and travellers are making the world their garden… Like Constantinople and Ablaye Cissoko, a griot from Saint-Louis, Senegal, an eternally migrating bird who is also a master of the kora. It is said that this 21-string bridge-harp of the ancient Manding Kingdom (13th century) was the most precious, most fought-over possession of the woman-sage. From this celestial creature, the musician seems to have inherited the quality of grace. The sweetness of his tone, the finesse of his melodic lines, the fluidity of his touch, his virtuosity without ostentation, his purity and generosity—all of these qualities are combined in this stellar musician who travels from childhood to wisdom anytime. By turns historian, storyteller and philosopher, Ablaye perpetuates the oral tradition of his land and embraces the great family destiny.

This meeting between Ablaye and Constantinople, between strings and vocals, goes back in time to evoke the beauty of being. It is a joint passage through the common sites of the imagination, like a long breath before the inexorable march of the world and time.


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Agent (Festivals Québec, Canada, USA)

Metamorfosi

Territory represented: Québec, Canada, USA, Asia

In line with Early Dreams, it is the pages left by another marvellous composer and singer that Constantinople has taken the liberty to reinvent. A worthy heiress of Monteverdi, Renaissance Venetian madrigalist Barbara Strozzi created a secular vocal repertoire that intoxicates the senses. A joyful and salutary delirium for music lovers!

For this project, the rich imagination of the beautiful artist with the demonic reputation is embodied by the velvety smooth vocals of Acadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc. And her poetry is enhanced by the brio, nimbleness and bold improvisations of five musicians.

Also on this amorous program are pieces by another Italian genius: Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger (1580-1651). His spontaneous changes, sharp contrasts and unusual rhythmic groupings provide fertile ground for Constantinople, who always welcome the chance to free themselves from the cultural codes of old Europe…

“For the flames of lovers, I know that

all the oceans are not enough.”

Barbara Strozzi, Cantate Sino Alla Morte

  • Suzie Leblanc, soprano
  • Michel Anger, baroque guitar & theorbo
  • Olivier Breault, baroque violin
  • Patrick Graham, percussion
  • Pierre-Yves Martel, viola da gamba
  • Kiya Tabassian, setar, shourangiz & leader

Agent (Québec, Canada, USA, Asia)

Agent (Festivals Québec, Canada, USA)

The 13-Petaled Rose

Territory represented: Québec, Canada, USA, Asia

Union of klezmer and persian music

Whether it be its sonorities, ornamentations or melodic lines, klezmer music has obvious affinities with the world and federative approach of Constantinople. All that was needed was an opportunity to explore this repertoire and embark on a new creation. The opportunity came during a highly productive encounter between the musicians of Constantinople and the two founding members of The Klezmatics, a group emblematic of the revival of klezmer, Frank London and Lorin Sklamberg.

Together, they created The 13-Petalled Rose, a musical encounter between the klezmer repertoire, which stems from a secular history of diverse influences, and the modal music of the Middle East and Persia.

By gathering together various modes, rhythmic lines and recurrent themes from their respective cultures, the musicians came up with a program based on four themes: The Divine, The Pleasures of Life, Love, Political Expression. To do it justice, they employed a broad canvas: klezmer music and songs, sacred Yiddish and Judeo-Persian songs, The Song of Songs, as well as contemporary pieces composed specially for the occasion by Didem Basar, Frank London and Kiya Tabassian.

  • Didem Başar, qanun
  • Frank London, trompet
  • Pierre-Yves Martel, viola da gamba
  • Lorin Sklamberg, voice, accordion & guitar
  • Kiya Tabassian, setar & voice
  • Patrick Graham, tombak & percussions
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