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Intermezzo to spotlight Persian music

Final concert of the season includes Ravel and group AVA

Published: Saturday, Aug. 7 2010 3:00 p.m. MDT

Mohsen Zayernouri, part of the group AVA, plays the tar, a staple of Persian music.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

The Intermezzo Chamber Music Series isn't always just about chamber music. It also likes to occasionally go far beyond that and bring some exoticism to its concerts.

And for its final concert of the season on Monday, it will do exactly that.

The program includes Maurice Ravel's well-known String Quartet, but a large segment of the concert will be devoted to Persian music played by the group AVA.

"We play a collection of traditional Persian instruments," said member Mohsen Zayernouri, "and we play a wide range of Persian folk music."

Zayernouri was born in Iran but came to the United States to pursue his education at the University of Utah, where he recently finished his doctorate in mechanical engineering. It was in Utah that Zayernouri became acquainted with AVA and began performing with the group.

He isn't a professional musician, but Zayernouri has been playing music since he was a young boy. "I play the tar and sehtar, and I have been playing those instruments since I was a kid."

Both are string instruments and staples of Persian music, Zayernouri said. They were developed in Iran more than a thousand years ago and were eventually introduced to neighboring Arab countries.

"The sehtar has three strings and a spherical box. The tar has pairs of strings and is a little bigger, with a bigger sound, than the sehtar." Both are plucked like a guitar. "The beauty of their sound attracted me as a child."

Zayernouri also plays a traditional wind instrument called the ney.

"The ney is made from bamboo which is hollowed out. There is no mouthpiece. It has six holes and a range of 21/2 octaves."

The player's teeth, lips and tongue are used to create the sound. "Like a trumpet you need great lip control and also the correct angle of the instrument to your body to play it."

In the Persian tradition, music and literature are closely woven together, Zayernouri said. "It's unique, because Persian music always references literature. Words are very important, and music is a framework for poetry. It's very special."

Zayernouri is glad that AVA will be featured on Intermezzo.

"This is a valuable opportunity for us. AVA is a non profit organization that promotes Persian culture and music. This concert is a unique chance for the audience to get to know the beauty of Persian music. I hope we can connect with the audience and help people appreciate this music."

Also on the program is Rice University faculty member and composer Karim Al-Zand's "Imaginary Scenes" for violin and piano.

If you go

What: Intermezzo Chamber Music Series

Where: Vieve Gore Concert Hall, Westminster College

When: Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $15 general admission, $12 senior citizens

Phone: 801-582-8746

Web: intermezzoconcerts.org

e-mail: ereichel@desnews.com

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