Yesterday, Kronos Quartet premiered Salam Aleykom (2020) from home.
Composer Sahba Aminikia writes of the work: “I remember when Tehran was being bombarded by Saddam Hussain’s forces during the 1980s. When that piercing siren suddenly would start screaming from our TV, my family would rush to the basement, where a few of our neighbors also would join us. My father would start joking with everyone and would laugh hysterically at any joke. Those moments with our neighbors in the basement in the dark with candles are still the most magical and mystical moments of my life.
“Salam Aleykom is a re-imagination of Maestro Hassan Kassai’s iconic theme for Persian ney, which has been broadcast on Iranian radio early in the morning everyday for the last 50 years. The theme corresponds to the rhythm inside the word ‘Salam Aleykom’ (peace and health be upon you). May peace and health be upon all of you during these difficult times.”
Kronos and Sahba have challenged their friends Atabak Elyasi, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Sirkhane, Ziya Tabassian, Mahsa Vahdat, Vân-Ánh Võ, and Wu Man to bring another layer of joy to this piece. Look for a second installment of Salam Aleykom soon.