San Francisco fantasies

Vibrant new year at the Palace of Fine Arts and California Academy of Sciences.

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Gualala holiday

Closing out the year with a family trip through Mendocino County on the northern California coast.

Elm City cheer

Balmy family Christmas in New Haven, Connecticut.

Haga hothouse

Sunday warm-up at the Butterfly House in Haga Park

—and a brisk walk home down the west bank of Brunnsviken.

London dry

Spirit blending class at the Ginstitute, Portobello Road, London

…and a well-lit journey home via Oxford Circus.

London - 5

Persian impressions

Our own Akademiska Kören i Stockholm enjoyed a unique opportunity this fall in collaborating with Aftab Kören, a local Persian-Swedish choir, to perform Afshin Khaef’s original composition Persian Epilogue. Directed by Khaef and accompanied by Stockholms Akademiska Orkester in glorious Berwaldhallen, the endeavor felt a timely celebration of eastern and western, classical and contemporary traditions. As loosely translated from the program synopsis:

The oratorio is based on a 20th-century poem by Siavash Kasra’i, alongside more ancient verses from Vahshi Bafqi and Rumi. Arash the Archer is a heroic icon whose name appears in the Avesta; the legend of his fateful arrow, shot to reclaim the border from invading Turan, is familiar to most Iranians. This Swedish staging of Persian Epilogue is the first on its scale, and perhaps the largest Persian choral performance to date in Europe.

The 80-minute performance was generously supported by KulturskolanArbetarnas Bildningsförbund, and the Stockholm County Council. Movement XIII: Manam Arash is sampled above, or read the BBC-Persian review here (perhaps with the aid of Chrome Translate for those, like us, less skilled in Farsi). Many thanks to Afshin and the rest of Aftab Kören for welcoming us into such a memorable project!

Top and asterisked (*) photos credit: Hamed Rafi