Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ahmad Borhani

An evening spent with Ahmad Borhani, Persian Classical Musician. This airs on WYPR's fantastic local arts and culture program, The Signal this Friday at Noon.

Ahmad Borhani left Iran in 1985 and sought temporary refuge in Turkey. He was there for four months awaiting a Visa, and then moved to Baltimore. It took three more years before his wife and children could move here to join him. Ahmad has earned his living as a music teacher and performer since coming here. Prior to moving to the United States, he was a chancellor of the 2nd biggest University in Iran. As you may know, there was a cultural revolution in Iran in 1979. Institutions of higher education came under close scrutiny, and the government closed the Universities indefinitely in ’85. Ahmad had organized an underground effort to stop this, but failed. Hence his departure from Iran. In addition, the highly orthodox Islamist government discouraged the practice of music.

He has instruments on hand that he and his students built when they first arrived here (it was impossible to find Iranian instruments in the USA, so they had to make them). Persian Classical Music is pretty ancient stuff, and they tend to make claims that it dates back to around 800 BC. It’s based on a system of musical scales that are passed on orally. So while this is “Classical” music, it’s learned in a traditional manner (not from sheet music) and is highly interpretive in its arrangements.

Produced by Shane Carpenter in collaboration with Aaron Henkin of WYPR (The Signal and Tapestry of the Times), and Cliff Murphy of the Maryland State Arts Council.