Spring 2002 (10.1)
Pianist and composer Jon Liechty, who
has been performing Azerbaijani pieces at his most recent concerts,
notes that audiences in the United States love Azerbaijani music.
"What's amazing to me is that we've had to wait so long
to get to know this music."
Photo: Jon Liechty
This past February, Liechty presented a solo recital that included
pieces by Azerbaijani composers Arif Malikov and Sevda Ibrahimova
along with Beethoven, Chopin and his own compositions. The concert
took place at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City, which
is dedicated to the work of Roerich, an early-20th-century Russian
painter who was interested in the East.
Liechty first became interested in Azerbaijani music while studying
music at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He and several
students at the school (Shahyar Daneshgar and Nasrin Hekmat-Farrokh)
founded the Sabá Ensemble in order to perform folk music
from the Middle East and Central Asia. The group included a number
of Azerbaijani songs in its repertoire.
"I was attracted to the emotional quality of the music and
the words," Liechty says. "When I played Azerbaijani
music, I felt the freedom to express myself in ways that I couldn't
in other music. There's something wonderful there that connects
me to Azerbaijan, and I think it's amazing that it connects so
effectively, in spite of our differences. I'm grateful to my
friends for helping that happen."
In 1999, Liechty moved to Baku to teach English at Western University
at the invitation of Rector Husein Baghirov (now Minister of
Environment and Resources, see AI 9.4). "I was eager to
see where this incredible music came from," he recalls.
"It was a thrill for me to be several thousand miles from
home, in an unfamiliar place, but to be listening to songs that
were so familiar."
During his stay in Baku, Liechty met several prominent Azerbaijani
musicians, including composer Arif Malikov, famous for his ballet
"Legend of Love" (1961).
When selecting music for a program, Liechty says he tries to
incorporate a variety of styles and genres. "Often I play
a few pieces that are more familiar to audiences here, maybe
something by Chopin, Haydn, or Mozart, which helps them approach
the less-familiar works, like Azerbaijani music. Often I include
a few Azerbaijani folk songs in the concert."
So far, Liechty has performed Azerbaijani works for piano in
New York City, Atlanta (Georgia), Louisville (Kentucky) and Bloomington
(Indiana). His repertoire includes (in alphabetical order): Fuad
Abdullayev's "Fuga", Elnara Dadashova's Theme and 7
Variations ("Shushtar"), Sevda Ibrahimova's "Moods"
(First Notebook), Arif Malikov's "Prelude" and "Mimolyetnosti"
(Fleeting Visions), various short piano pieces by Tofig Guliyev,
including "Lezgi", and Nargiz Shafiyeva's "Six
Back to Index
AI 10.1 (Spring 2002)
| AI Store | Contact us
Other Web sites
created by Azerbaijan International
AZgallery.org | AZERI.org | HAJIBEYOV.com