Rangin Kaman (Rainbow) (2008)
By Homayoun Sakhi (b. 1976)
Performed by Kronos Quartet
Homayoun Sakhi, rubâb
and special guests Salar Nader, tabla, and Abbos Kosimov, doyra
Homayoun Sakhi is the outstanding Afghan rubâb player of his generation, a brilliant virtuoso endowed with a charismatic musical presence and personality. Born in Kabul into one of Afghanistan’s leading musical families, Sakhi is the heir to a musical lineage that began in the 1860s, when the ruler of Kabul, Amir Sher Ali Khan, brought a number of classically trained musicians from India to perform at his court. Over the next hundred years, Indian musicians thrived in Kabul, and the city became a provincial center for the performance of North Indian classical music. In performing North Indian music from an Afghan perspective, Sakhi reunites raga with one of its original sources, the cultivated musical traditions of the Iranian world.
From the age of ten, Sakhi studied rubâb with his father, Ghulam Sakhi, in the traditional form of apprenticeship known as ustâd-shâgird (Persian: “master-apprentice”). Ghulam Sakhi was a disciple and, later, brother-in-law, of Ustâd Mohammad Omar, the much-revered Afghan rubâb master who helped shape what many Afghans identify as their “national” music, and became the first Afghan musician to teach in the United States when he arrived at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1974.
Homayoun Sakhi’s study of the rubâb was interrupted in 1992, when his entire family moved to the Pakistani city of Peshawar, a place of refuge for many Afghans from the political chaos and violence that enveloped their country in the years following the Soviet invasion of 1979. In 2001, Sakhi emigrated to Fremont, California, which, together with nearby Hayward and Union City, claims the largest concentration of Afghans in the United States.
About Rangin Kaman, Sakhi writes:
“I call this piece Rangin Kaman, which means ‘rainbow’ in Farsi/Dari (Persian). I was inspired to write it to express and evoke the colors, beauty, diversity, and sheer wonder of this natural phenomenon. Throughout history and in modern times, we have seen the rainbow reflected in a variety of vastly different cultures and philosophies, as well as in many beautiful eye-pleasing pieces of art.
“The rainbow’s beauty, variety, and ethereal textures are represented in Rangin Kaman by a combination of different rhythmic and musical styles from distinctive regions of my native Afghanistan—the north, east, west and south—as well as with a blending-in of elements of Western music. Afghanistan is a combination of different ethnicities, dialogues, faces, landscapes, and cultures; this piece weaves a musical tapestry to reflect that, and brings to light my feelings for the nation of my birth.”
“ ...a gorgeous blend of European and Central Asian sonorities, marked by intense ensemble rapport and ending with a rousing invocation of hope for Afghanistan's future. ”
- Alexander Varty, Georgia Straight
“ [Rainbow] emerges as a towering landmark in East-West composition... ”
- Ken Hunt, fROOTS
Homayoun Sakhi’s Rangin Kaman, arranged by Stephen Prutsman, was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet and Homayoun Sakhi by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and the Columbia Foundation. Additional commission funds were provided by The James Irvine Foundation, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the LEF Foundation.
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