Album Release: New Jewish Music Vol. 4 Featuring Habibi’s Shāhīn-nāmeh

The Azrieli Foundation is pleased to announce the October 6th release of New Jewish Music, Vol. 4 – Azrieli Music Prizes on Analekta. The album features the world-premiere recordings of three prize-winning works by the 2022 Azrieli Music Prizes Laureates Iman Habibi (2022 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music), Aharon Harlap (2022 Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music) and Rita Ueda (2022 Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music). These works are brought vividly to life by the Orchestre Métropolitain under the direction of Artistic Partner Nicolas Ellis.

Soprano Sharon Azrieli is featured as soloist in Harlap’s Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord, a cycle of five psalms for soprano and orchestra. Habibi’s Shāhīn-nāmeh for voice and orchestra was written especially for Persian vocalist and setar player Sepideh Raissadat, who gives a masterful performance on this recording. The unique talents of shō player Naomi Sato and suona/sheng player Zhongxi Wu are featured extensively in Ueda’s unique Birds Calling… from the Canada in You.

Habibi’s Shāhīn-nāmeh is a song cycle for voice and orchestra based on 14th-century Judeo-Persian poetry by Shahin Shirazi. The work explores the connection between Persian heritage and Jewish culture, finding inspiration in Shirazi’s Ardashir-nāmah (The Book of Ardashir), especially the poems that comment on the tale of Queen Esther in connection to the mythical characters of the monumental 11th-century epic Shahnameh (The Book of Kings).

“This piece incorporates a Persian traditional singing style in the solo part against a backdrop of Western classical instruments,” says Habibi. “The result is an exciting, fresh sound and a marriage of many different cultural and musical languages. It is my hope that this new work can bring much-deserved attention to this little-known poetry but also show the close affinity that has existed historically between Persians and Jews dating back to sixth century B.C.”

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