Music of Two Worlds
The National Music & Global Culture Society is proud to present “Music of Two Worlds”, a concert at the renowned Merkin Hall Kaufman Center (129 W 67th St, New York, NY 10036), on June 26, at 7:00pm. Tickets are available on Eventbrite. The NMGCS is a not-for-profit organization that aims to unite our multicultural community through the advocacy of music from around the world. The concert will feature esteemed musicians: Stephen Salters, Amir Vahab, Nargiz Aliyarova (NMGCS president and founder), Duo Trouvaille, and Shenika John Jordan.
Stephen Salters is a first-prize winner of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth competition in Belgium. He is an internationally acclaimed opera baritone with a wide range of repertoire, and excels in both standard compositions as well as contemporary works. The Boston Globe deemed Salters a “fearless and exhaustingly honest performer and a thrilling singer.”
Amir Vahab is one of New York’s most distinguished composer/vocalists of Sufi and folk music. Vahab sings in many languages, and his songs incorporate instrumentals and melodies from the ancient lands of the Middle East, giving his music a unique, mystical style. He was labeled “ambassador for a silenced music” by The New York Times.
In addition to being the president and founder of the NMGCS, Nargiz Aliyarova is a revered Azerbaijani pianist, with an extensive repertoire, spanning from Baroque to contemporary. She is known for her “powerful and artistic spirit”, appears regularly in solo and chamber music recitals, and has been featured in her performances with chamber and symphonic orchestras in 40 different cities around the world.
Though not completely unknown—she has several albums and collaborations with artists like Tan Dun on her CV—Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing is a new face on the New York scene. Her recital Wednesday night in the Bruno Walter Auditorium had the satisfaction of hearing a fine, new artistic voice in full maturity.
The concert was presented by the National Music and Global Culture Society, an organization that brings together music from differing backgrounds around the world. Hemsing played with Azerbaijani pianist Nargiz Aliyarova, the organization’s founder and president, performed two standard violin sonatas from and, befitting the NMGCS mission, nationalist music from their respective countries of origin.
Thus, the program began with Prokofiev and ended with Grieg, with mostly obscure names (Bjarne Brustad, Franghiz Alizadeh, Gara Garayev, and Arif Melikov) in the middle. One could hear the concert as a sandwich with more bread than meat—substantial and delicious bread to be sure, but also some substance in the middle pieces, primarily in the solo music for each instrument.
One may not often see links between the cultures of Norway and Azerbaijan (okay, you’ve got me – none ever crossed my mind!), but the excellent pairing of Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing and Azerbaijani pianist Nargiz Aliyarova made a compelling case for just such connections this week at Bruno Walter Auditorium. Playing works of Ali-Zadeh, Garayev, and Melikov from Azerbaijan, and Brustad and Grieg from Norway – along with a Prokofiev opening – they gave a uniquely stimulating recital entitled “From East to West.”
The program was subtitled, “Prokofiev Violin Sonata No. 2 and Works from Azerbaijan and Norway,” but the Russian role in the evening’s theme seemed to be that of a musical bridge (alluded to in Dr. Aliyarova’s comments about the influence of Russian teachers on both performers and their chosen composers).
The focal roles of Norway and Azerbaijan were underscored in Dr. Aliyarova’s introductory remarks, including references to the Norwegian explorer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl, whose Azerbaijan-Viking theories have invited discussion years after his death (the reader may find more about these fascinating but highly debated hypotheses here Thor Heyerdahl Azerbaijan-Viking theories.