dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Persian music, Rumi poetry and whirling dervish dance
Internationally renowned tanbour player Seyed Ali Jaberi brought his latest production All Because Of Love to Birmingham to an intimate setting in Symphony Hall. Performing alongside The Hamdel Ensemble on the stage with the auditorium behind the artists, spectators were arranged seated on stage and in the choir seats. And, despite the vastness of Symphony Hall, this smaller space was really effective in creating a closer connection between artists and audience.
The 90-minute performance was based on Jaberi's latest album All Because Of Love which is inspired by Sufi poet Rumi. The evening saw a blend of music, poetry and whirling dervish dance all aiming to explore and celebrate the Sufi tradition and Rumi's verse.
An introduction invited us to switch off to the outside world and give ourselves up to the experience and there was certainly a sense that for this short period on a busy Tuesday night we were in a time and place of stillness and contemplation.
That's not to say the audience wasn't involved. When invited to take part by singing lines for a couple of songs there were some who enthusiastically grasped the opportunity and others who clearly preferred to spectate rather than participate.
For many of the audience, myself included, this was very much an introduction to Sufi music and it would have been helpful to have a programme, even a printed sheet, explaining a little about the traditions behind what we were hearing with a verse sheet of Rumi's poetry. The event was though followed by a question and answer session allowing audience members more opportunity to explore the performance.
Even to beginners like me, it was clear we were in the presence of very accomplished musicians – not just on the tanbour but also on a mix of Middle Eastern and Western instruments including the Persian drum the daf, the Iranian flute the duduk plus double bass and clarinet. It's also a real positive for the city that a venue the size of Symphony Hall can be transformed to host an intimate performance celebrating Persian culture.