Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Composers of Mesopotamian Night 2013

Mesopotamian Night 2013 has enlisted an impressive list of emerging Assyrian composers (Samuel Khangaldy, George Somi, Honiball Yousef and Tiglat Issabey), a French composer (Michel Bosc) and an American composer (Devin Farney) for the June 15th event at the California Theatre.

Samuel Khangaldy’s contributions include the following works:

  1. Original Compositions for “The New Mesopotamia” and “The leaders of Truth”
  2. Orchestration of Nebu Issabey’s Mar Benyamin Oratorio
  3. Orchestration of the Songs of Yacoub Bet Yacoub
  4. Orchestration of William Daniel’s musical “The Marriage Proposal”
George Somi has made two important contributions:
  1. The original instrumental composition piece The Assyrian Legacy movements III (Hammurabi's Law) and IV (The Fall of the Great Empire). 
  2. Orchestration of Shamiram Urshan songs: Reesha D'Sheeta, Zmara D'Turah, Shoo Shoon La 
Michel Bosc has submitted an instrumental piece called “Da Pacem Domine: The Prayer of Assyrian Nation”. This piece is part of his extensive requiem that he did for Mesopotamian Night in honor of Assyrian martyrs of Baghdad church massacre in 2010.

Devin Farney has arranged and orchestrated Fred Elieh’s “Atootayeh Mani Na” and as well as the Assyrian songs of Biba.

Tiglat Issabey has orchestrated and arranged his father’s well known “Roomrama” for multi voice choir performance.

Honiball Yousef has submitted an orchestration of the “Epic od Ishtar and Tammuz” originally composed by Ninef Amirkhas for his father’s poem late Simon Amirkhas.

See below for a review of these composers profiles and biographies.


Samuel Khangaldy



Pastor Samuel Khangaldy was born in Tehran, Iran into an Assyrian family. After graduating from National University of Iran with a degree in Economics, he worked many years for Iran Aircraft Industries, a company under Ministry of Defense. Like the majority of Assyrians who immigrated to other countries after the Islamic revolution, Samuel and his family moved to the United States in 1984 and settled in San Jose, California. Samuel attended San Jose Christian College (now William Jessup University) and graduated with a degree in Theology and received his ordination as the Minister of the Word in 1996.

Samuel started his first music lesson when he was eight years old. He played accordion for three years but because of his great passion for his dream instrument, he switched to piano and received his trainings in classical music. His compositions were performed by Tehran Symphony Orchestra, and National Iranian Radio and Television Orchestra. He has directed choirs in different churches, schools and for the Shah of Iran. His music archive includes several classical pieces, piano solos, military marches, Assyrian folk dances, and numerous Gospel music and lyrics written in two languages, Assyrian and Farsi. As a pastor and a musician he is well known among the Assyrian and Persian communities in different countries in general and in San Jose and the Bay Area and Southern California in particular.

Pastor Samuel has been teaching and training piano students for about four decades, some to an advance level that have become piano teachers. We should add calligraphy and oil painting to Pastor Samuel’s artistic profile.

In 2009 Pastor Khangaldy joined Mesopotamian Night productions by composing the Gilgamesh Oratorio’s overture and also helping us coaching the Mesopotamia Choir Ensemble. Last year he generously contributed to our event two beautiful calligraphy pieces. His contribution to our 2013 production however has significantly increased. In addition to composition and orchestration works he is the lead coach for our Mesopotamia Choir Ensemble.


George Somi


George Somi’s role this year also has increased dramatically. We see a bright future for him in his music career and we think our community will highly benefit from his creative talents. George shared the following with us about himself and his music.


I graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering with a focus on astronautics in December of 2011. I currently reside in the Phoenix area, where I work as a systems engineer at Honeywell Aerospace. I'm vice president of the Assyrian Aid Society chapter here in Phoenix. I'm also a treasurer in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Phoenix chapter, and I've recently become involved with the National Space Society (NSS) here in Phoenix. I'm a big advocate for pushing aerospace policy in our nation. I strongly believe in a robust space exploration program, where humans regularly visit our celestial neighbors (asteroids, Mars, the Jovian moons, and beyond). I'm also an advocate of planetary colonization. It is the only way to ensure the survival of the human race. My career goal is to make space access much cheaper and space travel more efficient by transitioning current propulsion systems from chemical-based propellants to more exotic propellants, including plasma and antimatter.

In my artistic life, I have been extremely busy. As a matter of fact, the past year has probably been my most prolific in terms of composing. I was commissioned by Presidio Dance Theatre to create an original score to a ballet production based on the short story The Little Lantern by Ghassan Kanafani. The score is about halfway complete. I have also been busy scoring works for Mesopotamian Night.


A Little Background to Somi's Music

I know we won't be able to put on Assyrian Legacy V: Church of the East, but I was hoping to replace that portion of the program with the continuation of the suite from 2010. We left off on movement II. The third movement, Hammurabi's Law, as the name suggests, celebrates the code of law that is known as the first law code in the world. The music capitalizes on Ancient Near-Eastern tones by using the Hijaz Maqam, a scale readily identifiable as Middle-Eastern. The rhythms are deliberate and vigorous, representing the content of the law code.

The fourth movement, The Fall of the Great Empire is almost an antithesis of the first movement (The Rise of the Great Empire). The Fall is cinematic and grave. It represents the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC. The movement begins with an ominous and subdued lower-register string melody, which is answered by a sudden, dissonant call by the higher strings. The two clashing notes, D and Db, create a very unpleasant and chilling sound. This sequence represents the impending doom of Nineveh. The piece culminates in a powerful final cry by the brass, who repeat the initial string melody while a passionate French horn countermelody cries to the heavens in memory of what once was. The piece ends with an ominous repetition of the Rise fanfare while strings hold a tri-tone. This sequence represents the rise of the Persian Empire and the transition of Assyrians to a conquered people.


Honiball Yousef


Honiball Yousef was born on January  2nd, 1971. Since early age he became interested in music and started experimenting with musical instruments. In 1985 he joined the Conservatory of Music High School in Tehran. While in the school he also studied composition with well-known Iranian musicians such as Morteza Hananeh and Sharif Lotfi. These two masters had a big influence in shaping musical thoughts of Honiball. Honiball was also influenced by two other music masters: Thomas Christian David and Tengiz Shavlokhashvili.


In 1995, Honiball joined the Music University in Tehran and continued his advanced music education.

Honiball for years has been involved with church music in Iran and elsewhere outside Iran and has composed and arranged several Christian Music pieces. He has more than 26 years of experience in music education and In 2002 he established the “Beneil Music Academy” in Tehran where he trains young musicians and artists. Recently emerging Assyrian musicians and artists such as Sam Madoo, Edwin Elieh, Shemiram Qashapoor and Sinella Aghassi at some point have been trained and educated in this academy.

Following his believes and convictions, in 2000 he established the “Messaiah Ensemble”. This group includes symphonic and electronic instrumental musicians, choir and solo singers and for many years has performed classic and modern Christian Music in Iran and internationally. The last performance of this group was in Vahdat Hall in Tehran, which is the Iran’s most important performing arts center, attracted a lot of attention within Iran and internationally.

In recent years he has shown great interest in eastern folklore music in particular the works of contemporary Assyrian musicians. He sees this as a beginning in his research in ancient and modern Mesopotamian traditions which are already having great influence on his own creations. Since his youth he was also greatly influenced by Hannibal Alkhas art the iconic Assyrian visual artist and poet.

Some of his compositions are:


  • To the Dark Clouds of Universe – Based on a Persian poem by Frida Noroozi
  • Maryam: An Eastern Ave Maria – based on his own lyrics
  • The Thanksgiving Song – Christian Music theme
  • This sad and passing world -- Christian Music theme
  • The Epic of Shamiram and Ninous – based on ancient Assyrian themes
  • The song of an Actors – based on a Persian poem by Afshin Moghadam
  • If I was a moon – based on Persian poem by Freidoon Moshiri

Some of his concerts include:


  • 2000: Messiah Ensemble Concert, Tehran and Urmi
  • 2000: Ambassadors of Christ Concert, Assyrian Pentecostal Church, and Assemblies of God church Tehran
  • Assyrian Heavenly Convention, William Daniel Hall, Tehran
  • 2004: Messiah Ensemble Concert , Roodaki Hall, Tehran
  • 2005: Messiah Ensemble Concert , Farhang Hall, Tehran
  • 2006: Messiah Ensemble Concert , In Turkey and Holland
  • 2007: Messiah Ensemble Concert , Episcopal Church of Tehran
  • 2008 Messiah Ensemble Concert , Assemblies of God church, Tehran
  • 2010: Classical Music Concert, German Church, Tehran
  • 2011: Messiah Ensemble Concert , Vahdat Theater, Tehran
  • 2013 Assyrian Folk Music Concert, German Church, Tehran


Honiball after his recent extensive research on Mesopotamian music, performed a concert of “Assyrian Folkloric Music” in Tehran for Assyrian and non-Assyrian audience. He called this concert “A Reseach Oriented Concert”.

Honiball has contributed the orchestration and arrangement of the “Epic of Ishtar and Tammuz” choir and solo song for our 6th annual Mesopotamian Night concert. We look forward to an increasing role for him in future productions.


Devin Farney



San Francisco based musician Devin Farney is a composer/arranger/pianist with two degrees in composition - Bachelors from The University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music (2006) and Masters from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (2009).   He and his music has been a part of several international music festivals, and has received numerous awards and recognition including the ANALOG art's 'Iron Composer' competition, the San Francisco Hot Air New Music Festival, and most recently the Bassoon Chamber Music Competition.  He also composes commercial and concert music on demand, and has been commissioned by filmmakers, conductors, etc.  He is the staff composer at Brilliant Ideas Ad Agency as well as Fat Elvis Music boutique.  www.devinfarney.com 

Devin helped the Mesopotamian Night production last year with Fred Elieh’s song and this year his role has increased significantly as well. He took a shot on Biba’s non-trivial songs and we are sure our audience will love his arrangements.

Michel Bosc



French composer Michel Bosc (born in 1963) is largely self-taught. In 1985, the French singer and composer William Sheller convinced him to devote himself to writing music. Since then, he has tackled registers as diverse as chamber music, symphonies, sacred music and music for the theatre.
 
Leading soloists have given Michel Bosc encouragement, among them the flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal (for a flute trio), the countertenors James Bowman and Bertrand Dazin (creators of his cantata Ils sont là), the soprano Natalie Dessay (for the melody Madinina), John Walz, first cello of the Los Angeles Music Center Opera and Monica Cecconi-Botella, composer and premier Grand Prix de Rome (for the Elégie for strings).

A member of the Société Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Michel Bosc is a distinguished music critic and analyst. His writings include the sleeve-notes for a recording of French Baroque music by the Petits Chanteurs de Versailles.

As a composer, Michel Bosc is the author of over two hundred pieces of music; many of them have been played in places as diverse as Paris (Théâtre du Châtelet, Salle Gaveau, Musée d'Orsay), Angers, Saumur, Tours, Fontevrault, Annecy, Strasbourg, Lille, Lyon, Poitiers, but also Wavre (Belgium), Landgoed Vilsteren (The Netherlands), Madrid (Spain), Brno (Czech Republic), Pasadena and San Jose (USA), Yokohama, Tokyo and Kobe (Japan) .
As an orchestrator, he has done several arrangements and transcriptions for symphony or chamber orchestras.

His work spans over a wide range of styles: symphony, symphonic poem, choral music, concerto, string quartet, opera, wind quintet, brass quintet, trio with piano, melodies… His sacred music includes a mass, a requiem, a set of “Leçons de Ténèbres” and two oratorios.

Bosc's works have been performed worldwide by such performers and ensembles as Jean-Walter Audoli, Hugues Reiner, Philippe Fournier and Maximilian Fröschl, the soprano Agnès Mellon, the choir conductor Michel Laplénie, the Ensemble Sagittarius, the brass quintet of the Orchestre National des Pays-de-Loire, the Orchestre Pasdeloup, the National Orchestra of Kazakhstan, the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Ulyanovsk Philharmonia, the European Orchestra, the Orchestre Instrumental d’Ile-de-France, the Orchestre Symphonique Lyonnais and the Ensemble Gabriele Leone.

The music of Michel Bosc is both tonal and highly personal, marked by a fierce, independent hedonism. In the words of conductor Maximilian Fröschl, Bosc’s music combines “melodic sweetness, polyphonic rigor and the power of rhythm”
 
Several works of Michel Bosc are published in the United States by Wolfhead music. Compilations of scores are also available on lulu.com. More information and details about Michel Bosc's works can be found here.

Michel Bosc has written several books in French:  
- novels: Marie-Louise - L'Or et la Ressource, Poste Restante;
- play: Viendras-tu ?;
- poetry book: Cathédrales;
- essays: Musique baroque française, splendeurs et résurrection; Symbolisme et dramaturgie de Maeterlinck dans Pelléas et Mélisande; Au Bout du rêve, La Belle au Bois dormant de Walt Disney; L’Art musical de Walt Disney: l’animation de 1928 à 1966;
- study: Mannequins GéGé, Chic de Paris

He occasionally writes for the musical magazine La Lettre du musicien.
Michel Bosc contribution to Mesopotamian Night project has been significant, prolific and selfless. This year with his “Prayer of Assyrian Nation” instrumental piece, we are opening up a new exciting field: the Assyrian Spiritual Music. We have blessed by this unconditional relationship and his devotion to arts and music and look forward to more fruitful cooperation in future years.

Below is Michel Bosc little message "I feel Assyrian too":



Tiglat Issabey


Born in Tehran, Iran in 1958, Tiglat’s musical origins are quite literal. His mother, Shemirum Issabeik, was a vocalist possessing a voice of beauty and power; his father, Nebu Issabey, was an accomplished concert violinist, distinguished composer and vigorous conductor. Without question, it was Shemirum who was responsible for his artistic sensibilities, raising him in an environment that not only aided, but provoked him into music. Although his influences were immediate, his musical studies began considerably late. His serious musical development began at age eleven and came at the hands of Luigi Pazanari at the Tehran Music Conservatory.

Come 1979, Tiglat found himself in the United States working towards the American dream. He eventually settled in Chicago and quickly matured into one of the Assyrian community’s most prolific and dependable arrangers. At the age of only twenty-six, Tiglat arranged Sargon Gabriel’s 1984 self-titled album which featured the string section from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. For three decades, he would solidify himself as one of the most valuable and influential producers in the Assyrian community. Tiglat was able to reform Assyrian pop music by incorporating various ethnic elements from all around the world. He replaced typical musical instruments with more distinctive options: trading in guitars for woodwinds, adding Latin percussion in place of the tumbak, and substituting modern synthetic leads for the zorna. His signature precision arrangements and diverse style have been emulated time and time again.

In 2013, Tiglat rearranged his father’s renowned “Roomrama” (which is used as the Assyrian National Anthem) from the ground up. Using drastically different voices along with all-new orchestration, Tiglat has innovated Assyrian music once more- this time with a piece closer to the heart.

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