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Salar Aghili at the Melbourne Recital Centre

Gig Review: Thu 10 Nov 2011

Salar Aghili in concert

Salar Aghili is a young singer embracing traditional Persian music. I was very fortunate to see him with a world-class ensemble in the gorgeous Elisabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre on 10 Nov 2011. Despite the ridiculous over-amplification, the evening was one of sensitive, relaxed and beautiful music making.

As one who has some understanding of this music, and of amplification, I do wonder what qualifies some "professional" sound people to treat delicate acoustic performance like rock music. I'd never seen the man at the P.A. desk before, he is certainly not employed at the MRC, and I do hope he reads this! He should have swallowed his pride, pleaded ignorance and let the MRC staff guide the mix and levels. The bizarre left-right panning across the hall during percussion solos reminded me of In-a-Gadda-da-Vida by Iron Butterfly, all stupidly distracting and unwarranted. He should have scratched his balls if he was bored.

Thankfully I was able to focus mostly on the music making by the Raz-o-Niaz Ensemble, seven musicians on traditional Persian instruments, and all excellent at their craft. The inclusion of western-tuned grand piano in the first part of the concert was puzzling. That kind of temperament seemed at odds, but I think Aghili could sing anything, anywhere, and brilliantly. His voice is pure, and soared flawlessly throughout the evening. Amazing. Nourishing.

As my friend and collaborator Chris reminded me, this pinnacle of art and cultural expression says a lot about people demonized by the media and propagandists who need to look at this part of the world in a more open way, especially given the longevity of this beautiful poetry and music.

If you'd like to hear some of Aghili singing, listen back to this episode of the Global Village presented by Roger Holdsworth. Thanks Roger. Once again, without your networking and foresight, I wouldn't have known about this event.

Garry Havrillay

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