Winter 2001 (9.4)
Debut of Tar
Concerto in United States
Left: Composer Haji Khanmammadov
January 26, 2002 marks the first time that a work by Azerbaijani
composer Haji Khanmammadov (1918-2005 ) will be performed in
the United States. At a concert in Los Angeles, Mohammad Omranifar
(1971- ) will debut Khanmmadov's "Concerto
No. 2 for Tar,"
accompanied by the La Mirada Symphony Orchestra under the direction
of Leon Guide. Omranifar is an Azerbaijani from Tabriz, Iran,
who wrote his thesis at Tehran Music University in 1998 about
The Azerbaijani tar varies somewhat from the Iranian tar. First
of all, it has 11 strings, not six. Instead of being tuned in
quarter tone increments, the Azerbaijani tar is tuned in semitones
(in half-steps) so that it may be used in combination with Western
instruments such as violin and cello. Rather than being played
on the musician's lap, it is held tightly against the chest.
Omranifar remembers seeing the Azerbaijani tar for the first
time on television in the mid-1980s, back in the days when borders
were closed between the Soviet Union and Iran. "We used
to watch orchestras on Baku television whenever we got a chance.
You had to have a huge antenna - which we called our "Baku
Antenna" - on the roof to be able to pick up the channel.
Even though the image was often distorted, the sound was good.
I spotted the tar in the orchestra one day and became curious."
Omranifar heard Khanmammadov's concerto and decided he wanted
to master it. When he played a tape of this concerto for his
fellow students to show them how strong the tar was, they were
shocked. They couldn't understand how such a beautiful sound
could come from such an instrument.
Left: Mohammad Omranifar will perform Haji
Khanmammadov's Concerto No. 1 for Tar and Orchestra in Los Angeles
in January 2002.
Khanmammadov was born in Darband, now Dagestan. Since his father
had been imprisoned and his uncle sent into exile during Stalin's
Purges (1930s), his relatives decided to send Haji to Baku to
seek out Uzeyir Hajibeyov, the composer of "Arshin Mal Alan",
who they heard was a "very kind person." Haji was only
14 years old when he made the journey alone by train to Baku.
Hajibeyov recognized the youth's passion for the tar and enrolled
him in the Conservatory. Later, Khanmammadov studied composition
under Gara Garayev who challenged him to write a concerto for
tar. Khanmammadov went on to make a career out of music and compose
a total of five concertos for tar and symphonic orchestra, plus
a concerto for kamancha and another for harp. He lives in Baku
Omranifar's concert will take place at 14900 La Mirada Blvd (the
corner of La Mirada Blvd. and Rosecrans) in La Mirada, California
at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2002. Contact: Mohammad Omranifar,
Tel: (213) 383-5189; firstname.lastname@example.org; or the La Mirada Orchestra,
Tel: (714) 521-2786; (714) 523-2532.
To learn more
about Haji Khanmammadov, SEARCH at AZER.com where samples of his music can be
heard. Tar Concerto No. 1 may be purchased at AI
[Volume 3 of the Classical
Music of Azerbaijan CD Series].
(9.4) Winter 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2002. All rights reserved.
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