Hâfez and Betinis: a Conductor’s Approach to Ancient Persian Poetry As Voiced by a Twenty-first Century, Western Composer
Description: The choral music of Abbie Betinis is being widely performed and commissioned by prominent high school, university, and civic choruses. This study examines From Behind the Caravan: Songs of Hâfez, a five-movement work by Betinis for women’s chorus, vielle, oud, and Persian percussion. Four ghazals by Hâfez of Shiraz, a fourteenth century Sufi poet, are used as the text for Betinis’s Caravan. When considering a performance of this work, a conductor must understand proper treatment of the text, available translation options, Hâfez’s vast world of imagery, vocal demands inherent to the work, alternate instrumentations available and the benefits of each, how to approach improvisatory passages, how to engage heterophonic elements, and how to prepare a Western choir and audience with very little to no understanding of the philosophies of Sufism that heavily influence the work. This study addresses the body of practical knowledge gained after a year of examining, researching, teaching, and performing this work.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Steenblik, Peter C.
Partner: UNT Libraries