for Kamancheh and Interactive Multimedia

کاشانه Kashana portrays my love for bringing together old and new, past and present. The Kamancheh, a traditional Persian instrument, narrates the sound of the past; inspired by classical Persian music dastgah- modal system, it invites the audience to my idea of Kashana, a small edifice, dwelling, house, like a bird’s nest. The shimmering high register electronics coupled with low drone sound draws a sound of the present– industrial and static. The visuals attempt to draw the same duality– it starts with an arch inspired by Persian architecture, while the shiny colors and parallel lines narrate the present. Expressing duality appears in most of my recent works, perhaps due to my dual Persian and American identity, the past and the present me. Kashana hopes to invite people into my dual world.

Half-Told Stories is an exploration of the intersection of personal narratives and artistic expression. It brings an artistic lens to the understanding of how personal experiences can be effectively translated into performance and underlines the importance of empathy in creating meaningful, relatable content. My journey began with a series of dialogues with Andy and Dionne Noble in March, focusing on telling stories that need to be shared.

We selected four female dancers whose unique stories provided a broad spectrum of experiences related to this issue. These personal narratives were abstracted and then interpreted into sound, abstract moving images, and dance, offering viewers a nuanced understanding of their lived experiences.

Our first act was inspired by Lindsey’s narrative, which uses the chase of a dog as a metaphor for the pursuit of life and normalcy. The second explores Angelica’s internal conflicts regarding forgiveness toward a loved one. The third narrative encapsulated Fiona’s lessons of independence inherited from her mother. The final act spotlighted Lauren’s narrative of her grandmother’s daring journey from the Philippines to the United States during a time of war.

In creating Half-Told Stories, my aim was to listen, feel, and empathize with these women’s experiences and then channel those emotions into the creation of an artistic performance that resonates with audiences on a deeply emotional level. I had the privilege to work with the remarkable saxophonist Wilson Poffenburger. Together, we shaped raw and poignant soundscapes with precise intonations that echo the emotional cadences of the women’s narratives.

“Tahirih The Pure” is a multimedia narrative that traces the heroic journey of an extraordinary Middle Eastern figure, Fátimih Baraghání – a scholar, poet, philosopher, teacher, prisoner, mother, martyr, women’s rights activist, and theologian of the Bábí faith in Iran, known as Tahirih Qurratu’l-‘Ayn(c. 1818-1852). Tahirih, a symbol of feminine power and the women’s movement for many Iranians is universally acknowledged as one of the most influential women in Iranian history. Historians believe that Tahirih was the first Babi woman to courageously reject the tradition of wearing the hijab. She advocated for the inclusion of women in society and their equal rights – a groundbreaking and radical concept in nineteenth-century Iran. In 1848, Tahirih attended the Badasht conference, as the sole woman amidst 80 men. During this assembly, Tahirih made the audacious move to remove her veil – a significant revolutionary act that led to her secret execution in mid-1852.

The first movement, “The Day of Alast,” draws inspiration from Tahirih’s innovative interpretation and adaptation of Islamic ideology, as beautifully reflected in her mystical poetry. The second movement, “Unchained,” encapsulates Tahirih’s indomitable spirit and its influence in triggering one of the most profound women’s rights movements of the 19th century. The third movement, “Badasht,” recreates the historic conference of Badasht, where Tahirih vehemently challenged prevalent notions of women’s equality and symbolically unveiled her hijab. The coda represents my artistic envisioning of Tahirih in her final moments, where she embraced her fate with serenity, chanting and praying.

On Feb. 24 and 25, Rice University composition professor Anthony Brandt collaborated with University of Houston professor Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal and Performing Arts Houston to premiere his newly commissioned chamber piece “Diabelli 200” at the Wortham Center. The performance was a continuation of Brandt and Contreras-Vidal’s work studying how creative performances impact the brain. During the concert, the pianist and conductor wore portable electroencephalography caps, with a research team monitoring their brain activity throughout, while real-time visualizations of the activity conceptualized by Badie Khaleghian.

© 2022 by Badie Khaleghian. All rights reserved.