Serendipity can be such a gentle force... I got to know of Nima Noury through inviting people to contribute with their art to our Opening Ceremony. I reached out to a music association and project that I have been following and enjoying since a couple of years, called Roots Revival. One of the many things I love about Roots Revival is how it weaves the different voices and stories, the different cultures and sounds. Much like an emerging dialogue, or a musical way of council.
Nima kindly accepted my invitation to be part of the Ceremony, despite his busy life as Neuroscientist at Tübingen University. Nima was born in Tehran in 1983 and lives in Germany since 2011, where I can imagine him weaving his work looking at the electrical waves of stimulation in the human brain with the electrical stimulation of people's hearts through the sound waves of his music. Parallel to his scientific career, he has been continuously fulfilling his extreme passion for music by learning traditional Iranian music from some of the greatest masters of Iran, and playing several Iranian instruments: Tar, SeTar, Oud, and Tar Bass. Apart from his musical activities as a composer and performer, Nima teaches Tar and Setar, and also gives workshops on the theory of middle-eastern music.
After his careful consideration given the time constraints and the technological limitations for sound, we agreed to show his piece Sorrowful Spring. It felt fitting. To me it felt perfect. You see, it is spring here where my feet touch the ground. And there is a sorrowfulness guiding so many of us to be part of Now What?!... A sorrow for the world. The simple and yet complex heartbeat, the exquisite flow of Nima's music on the Tar's slenderness. The poetry of Hushang Ebtehaj Sayeh pouring through the mournfully sweet voices of Nima and Nasim Ramezani. The ebbs and flows... You see, this song was inspired by the 2019 Floods in Iran, a disaster that is often labelled as "natural", but which had many human contributions and aggravations. The beautiful words, which I'm only slowly beginning to understand, are from the poem titled ارغوان, which is the Persian word for the beautifully purple-blossoming tree Cercis siliquastrum, (known as Judas tree in English, but I prefer the Spanish "árbol del amor" or "arjorán"). The purple of its flowers was a sign of spring in much of the Middle East...
این چه رازیست
که هر بار بهار
با عزای دل ما میآید؟
"Purple... What a secret That every spring Does it come with the mourning of our hearts?"
But then... it doesn't come every spring anymore. Like in that catastrophic spring of 2019, and more and more often through more and more droughts and climate aberration and deforestation and war...
Spring came, it did not bring blossoms and wild roses The breeze did not smell of April The swallow came without meeting any flowers...
"Do you forget the spring ritual? Why is blood dripping from the flower branch? What happened? Where did the nightingale cry? Why is there the smell of blood in every breeze? ...
Why is the butterfly broken? Why is sadness sitting in every corner?
What pain is this? What pain is this? What a pain...
بهار آمد، گل و نسرین نیاورد
نسیمی بوی فروردین نیاورد
پرستو آمد و از گل خبر نیست
چرا گل با پرستو همسفر نیست؟
چه افتاد این گلستان را، چه افتاد که آیین بهاران رفتش از یاد؟
چرا خون میچکد از شاخه گل؟
چه پیش آمد؟ کجا شد بانگ بلبل؟ چرا در هر نسیمی بوی خون است؟
چرا زلف بنفشه سرنگون است؟
چرا پروانگان را پر شکسته ست؟
چرا هر گوشه گرد غم نشسته ست؟
چه درد است این؟ چه درد است این؟ چه درد است
که در گلزار ما این فتنه کرده ست؟
We felt that it had the beauty and sorrow that we were aiming for in our Ceremony. Inviting both the fragrant blossoms and their absence to be present as we opened our hearts and this space to a future full of possibilities.
I am personally grateful for this chance encounter, which has brought me not only beautiful music and poetry, but also a window into the culture of Iran, and a reminder of how much I have always liked it.
Nima dedicated his piece to all victims of climate disasters.
Finding more about Nima Noury
I invite you all to visit Nima's virtual spaces, where you can enjoy his music and perhaps attend a workshop or learn to play some of those beautiful Iranian instruments...
I find the other piece that Nima suggested also deeply moving, and would love to invite you to enjoy it... Those Days.