California dreams

Ambient tunes for a desert women’s weekend.

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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

Copenhagen harmonies

Music and meandering during the 39th annual Jazz Festival in Denmark’s colorful capital. Roberto Fonseca was predictably stunning, alongside phenomenal finds Sahra da Silva, Anna PaulineJack Street and Zigaboom.

Beguiling Begur

Long weekend of sol and sardanes over Aigua Blava bay on the Costa Brava, Catalonia.

 

Yosemite cleanse

After a week clearing out our New York storage unit (final steps in our Stockholm move), we were lucky to seize a few days with friends on the opposite coast at Sierra Meadows, in the foothills of Yosemite.

We were thrilled to connect with so many old and newer friends from San Francisco and Los Angeles—not to mention Portland, Chicago, and Dublin—that made the Memorial Day trek, many with growing families.

The early summer days were gentle, the evenings golden.

Nighttime brought some stunning area musicians to entertain the crowd, and starry light shows above and below.

Top & asterisked (*) photos credit: Andy Shirey

Southland

Savoring a few warm days and nights on a February work trip to the American South.

New Creation

We met in a choir thirteen years ago; and making a home in Stockholm, we’ve been lucky to find a new musical family with Akademiska Kören (AK), with whom we sang our first Swedish concert this week.

Founded in 1931 as the first mixed-voice college choir in Sweden, AK (no longer a student group) celebrated its 85-year jubileum this fall with a performance of Haydn’s Creation (Skapelsen), plus a mix of modern pieces (repertoire list below), under the direction of pianist-composer Håkan Sund. We were joined for the Haydn by three other local choirs (Opera Viva, Uppsala’s Canorus, and Danderyds Sångensemble), three stunning soloists (soprano Hillevi Martinpelto, tenor Thomas Volle, and bass Nils Gustén), and Sandvikens Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm’s monumental Berwaldhallen concert hall.

We are so grateful to Håkan, AK, and our other fellow musicians for boundless patience and hospitality toward their new American colleagues.


Akademiska Kören 85th Jubilee Concert
Dir: Håkan Sund

György Ligeti: Éjszaka, Reggel (Night, Morning)
Eric Whitacre: Water Night
Jaakko Mäntyjärvi: Pseudo-Yoik
Joseph Haydn: The Creation (Part I)

Asterisked (*) photos credit: Maria Thiessen

Top photo credit: Anders Unosson