Autumn 2005 (13.3)
Women Ashugs Debut in US
San Francisco World Music Festival
Pari Majlisi: Women Performers of Legend and Folk Poetry"
by Anna Senarslan. AI 12.4 (Winter 2004).
of the Bards: So You Want to Become an Ashug" by Anna
Senarslan. AI 12.4 (Winter 2004).
The Poet Minstrels of Azerbaijan" by Anna Senarslan. AI
12.4 (Winter 2004).
year ago, when I first started working with a group of women
from the ancient "ashug" (epic singing) tradition of
Azerbaijan, I never would have imagined that I would be bringing
them to perform in the United States. At that time when I set
out with a Fulbright Fellowship to study the art of women ashugs,
their existence was virtually unknown, and epic arts worldwide
were thought to have nearly disappeared.
Photo: Anna Senarslan.
Fortunately, the ashug tradition
is alive and well in Azerbaijan, and some of its most vibrant
practitioners are the women of the Ashug Pari Majlisi-a collective
of performers under the leadership of master Gulara Azafli. In
June 2005, when Michael Santoro and Kutay Derin Kugay of Door
Dog Music came to Baku to meet traditional musicians, I introduced
them to the Ashug Pari Majlisi. As a result, women ashugs Gulara
Azafli and Zulfiyya Ibadova were invited to make their US debut
at two concerts as part of the Sixth Annual San Francisco World
Music Festival on October 8 and 9th. Audiences at these shows
were the first in America to hear this soulful, courageous music
performed by two virtuoso performers.
Above: Zulfiyya Ibadova and Gulara Asafli,
both Ashug performers made their debut in the US at the Sixth
Annual San Francisco World Music Festival in October 2005. The
traditional stringed instrument shown here is the saz.
The San Francisco World Music Festival, which brings some of
the most talented musicians in the world to the United States
every October, has had a continuing tradition of showcasing musicians
from Azerbaijan, and this year is no exception. The centerpiece
of this year's festival was the Novruz Project, which combined
music, poetry, dance, and film, in "an international music
experiment and statement for global peace". This performance
brought together traditional musicians of various nationalities,
and featured Azerbaijani pianist Chingiz Sadikhov and kamancha
soloist Imamyar Hasanov, who performed simultaneously with a
video of his brother playing tar at Yanar Dagh (Burning Mountain)
in Azerbaijan. Afghani, Persian, Kurdish and Assyrian Master
Artists also participated in the Novruz Project.
The event took place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in
San Francisco on October 2, 2005. Gulara Azafli and Zulfiyya
Ibadova performed on October 8, 2005, at the Brava Theater in
San Francisco, and on October 9 at the Ashkanaz Cultural Center
at Berkeley on October 9, 2005. Visit the San Francisco World
Music Festival Web site: sfworldmusicfestival.org.
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