The music of Aftab Darvishi is something you have to hear. Mystical and engaging, her music transports the listener – and the players – and is one of the nightlights of our season.
Born in Tehran, Iran in 1987, Aftab Darvishi grew up playing piano, violin, and Kamancheh. Her father (the composer Mohammad-Reza Darvishi) encouraged her musical aspirations, and she graduated with a degree in Music Performance/Composition from the University of Tehran with honors.
In 2010 Aftab moved to the Netherlands, studying Carnatic Music at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and achieving a master’s degree in Composing for Film in 2012. Following additional composition studies at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague (while simultaneously studying Carnatic Music at the Conservatory of Amsterdam with Rafael Reina), she was awarded the Tenso Young Composers Award in 2016 for her piece for acapella choir entitled “And the world stopped Lacking you…”
Aftab has created over 40 musical works for various mediums and contexts (opera, chamber music, choir, dance, film/animation scores and art installations just to name a few), and has worked with orchestral groups in demand all over the world. In addition to collaborations with the HERMESensemble, Orkest De Ereprijs, Oerknal ensemble, Riccioti ensemble, and Royal Ensemble, Aftab has also had the privilege of being commissioned by Kronos Quartet.
In 2017, the Grammy Award-winning string ensemble of international renown commissioned Darvishi’s stunning “Daughters of Sol” for inclusion in their “Fifty for the Future” project. This ambitious musical initiative seeks to amalgamate repertoire that exemplifies “the most contemporary approaches to the string quartet, designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals.”
Aftab Darvishi’s work has been described as possessing a keen awareness of breath. David Harrington, artistic director of Kronos Quartet, has remarked that “her music is very alive in the most natural way.” The unusual combinations of melodic voicing in her work draw from the rich variety of musical traditions and cultural heritage she has encountered along her compositional path. In this way, it can be said that her music is always evolving.
Aftab has composed for choirs such as Latvian Radio Choir, BBC singers, Chamber Choir Ireland and Helsingin Kamarikuoro. Her music has been presented in festivals including Holland Festival, Lunalia festival, Operadagen Rotterdam, New music Dublin Festival, Tehran Contemporary Music Festival and Kronos Festival.
Of her award-winning work “Daughters of Sol”, Darvishi shares that she found its core inspiration in a poem by contemporary Iranian poet Ahmad Shamloo. Created through a deep connection to the Iranian folk music of her childhood, she explains that “…this piece contains gentle transitions and detailed changes, which leads to dissolving of different shades and colors. It is a constant evolution between shadows and lights. It is a journey about conveying gentle circular movements, which I think…resembles cycles of life. We evolve and dissolve in gentle and harsh conversions. We change colors, yet we tend to go back to our roots [in spite] of our differences.”
Regularly invited as a guest lecturer at the University of Tehran, Aftab’s opera “Turan Dokht” premiered last year at the Holland Festival to great acclaim. Like so many of her works for orchestra, “Daughters of Sol” is sure to leave you spellbound.
You can hear the SSO String Wuartet perform Daughters of Sol as part of the SSO’s La Chambre.