From “Rain” to “Motherland” An exclusive interview with Peyman Shirali
– Tell me about yourself. How did you start playing musical instruments and tell me if you have taken any course in composing?
I started playing music from the music school in Isfahan and studied theoretical courses under the supervision of Mr. Ali Montazeri. Then I met Mr. Keyvan Mirhadi in a classical guitar festival in Isfahan Hozeh Honari in 1383 and I took a course studying music with him.
After that I passed advanced courses of music with Professor Alireza Tafaghodi and Dr. Mehrdad Pakbaz. I also learned writing musical scores and music composition principles with Jamal Zohourian.
Basically, composing is related to individual’s taste and music recognition, and I started it with the analysis of Beethoven’s symphonies and Mozart’s sonatas in 1383 when I was in the music school and conservatory.
But it should be noted that Jamal Zohourian, Alireza Jannani and Dr. Pakbaz were among those who had a significant impact on me in this way were and encouraged me by their helpful contributions.
Are your works exclusively related to the guitar?
I’ve made more than 100 pieces and most of them are related to guitar. But I also made works for other instruments, including piano, violin, cello, alto, clarinet, flute and Iranian instruments like tar and santur. Additionally, I have written duets, trios and quartets for various instruments such as violin, guitar, flute, cello, two pieces for piano, a quintet for string instruments and three solos for violin. I also have composed pieces for the guitar orchestra, which I have been supervising and conducting in various provinces such as Dehlavi Orchestra in Isfahan which is still expanding.
Generally, I have focused more on guitar, because I believe less work has been done on the guitar in comparison to other Iranian instruments.
– How far have you been able to familiarize people with this instrument?
I have tried my best to make people familiar with this instrument, and I have always tried to perform part of the folk tunes or works of great Iranian composers, with whom people have a lot of memories (in other words, nostalgic pieces). Generally I plan my concerts in two parts. A section of the repertoire featuring parts and works of the world, and the other featuring classical Persian works.
So far, I have composed more than 100 works and I have arranged more than 200. I have published most of my works and arrangements in 7 volumes with the names: “Silk Road”, “Rain”, “Rain means you’ll return”, “Gardener”, “Motherland”, “forgetfulness”, and “six pieces for guitar and orchestra”.
Among my arrangements I personally prefer the arrangement of the song “Where are you, Pari” from Homayoun Khorram and “O Iran” from Ruhollah Khaleqi, which I have included it in the books in three different arrangements. And I like the piece called “Rain” more than others among my compositions.
“Rain” means all my senses and feelings to all the notes I learned, wrote, and understood and played. “Rain” is the endlessness of beauty which was discovered in my heart, and a deep wound that was never cuddled.
– What works have you performed for Iranian composers on guitar?
Works by the late masters such as Abolhassan Saba, Jalil Shahnaz, Samin Baghchehban, Morteza Hananeh, Morteza Neydavood, Reza Mahjoubi and Hossein Dehlavi, who all were famous Iranian musicians, and it is undoubtedly my honor to arrange and perform the works of these masters for the first time on the guitar.
I am especially interested in masters Hanane , Baghcheban and Dehlavi, to name a few ; in my opinion, Dehlavi is a distinguished musician whose pieces deserve to be loved note to note, like the soil of the homeland.
Undoubtedly, the effect of Samin Baghcheban’s music on Iranian children’s education wasn’t less than the Karl Orff’s effect in teaching music to children in Iran.
For me, the habit of listening to “Hannane” pieces is like watering home plants every day and no sensation is more beautiful than a flying dream coming true with Hanane Harmonies.
Some of your works are named after some famous composers. Is there a special reason?
Yes, I have composed pieces with the names of Dehlavi, Shahnaz, Baghchehban, Hananeh, in praise of Juliani, the magical hands of Rachmaninoff, the concertos for two guitars in praise of Vivaldi and Lauro. Each of these songs is related to my activities and my knowledge of those masters, so I chose the name of the songs after their names.
For example, since Juliani was interested in the theme of variance and la major chords I made him the vario sonic theme in la major, or because Rachmaninoff had big hands and was able to easily play all sorts of unusual chords which is difficult for professional musicians to get, I chose the name “the magical hands of Rachmaninoff” or because Vivaldi has made great concertos, I made him a piece called “the concerto for two guitars” in praise of Vivaldi, which is written in three parts.
– How much do you think composing music with guitar suits Iranian mood?
In my opinion, the guitar is a music instrument with a lot of capabilities and as you can see in works such as “the voice of water” by Jamal Zohourian, “Khorasan” from Dr. Pakbaz and “Perlude” from Master Mirkhani you’ll listen to Iranian music with amazing harmony.
In my pieces like “Rain” and “Shoorangiz” I have tried my best to arrange them based on Iranian taste of music. Even the four mezrab of the “Rain” which I first performed in 1386 excited a lot of friends who dominated to Iranian music.
– Have you had any activities in the field of film and cinema in your resume?
Yes I made two works for the theaters “Death in the fall” and “Adel was a captain”. I’ve also arranged the sound track of the movie “Bodyguard” for the string quartet and two guitars.
– Which one of your performances has received an appropriate feedback?
Commemoration of Professor Dehlavi in Roodaki Hall in Mehr, 1394.
Have you considered publishing your works in audio format?
Yes, I have recorded a collection of my compositions and arrangements in two albums; Motherland which includes 11 pieces of my works and “Gardener” which includes 23 pieces of my arrangements which come from single tracks or my performances in concerts.
– What is your repertoire of classic pieces?
My repertoire is mostly famous composers of guitar and piano and I always have three separate repertoire to perform. This year I’ve been trying to select an eclectic selection of the most popular and challenging guitar parts to attract more enthusiastic people.
Have you ever been donated a work from a composer as a gift?
Yes. The pieces I have been donated include:
The piece of Sanam from Jamal Zohorian, the piece “Letter No.13” from Peyman Fakharian, the piece
“Theme for Peyman Shirali” from Mustafa Akhundi, the piece “Suite In Em” from Alireza Jannani, and
the piece “Coffee Break” from Behzad Mirkhani. All of them are good classical guitar composers.
There are also two works from piano composers that I have not arranged them for the guitar yet.
– How is concert status and composition for guitar in Iran in general? And how do you see the new generation of Iranian guitar players?
Guitar is developing every day like industry, and we see newer methods of training with newer styles and thoughts, and I am very pleased with the fact that classical guitar has found its place in Iran well.
As I mentioned before, the new generation of musicians is doing well in the field of compositions, thanks to friends and artists in the country, but unfortunately, there have been fewer solo performances in large halls in recent years.