Art And Culture

Khonya Ensemble to Honor Banan

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Pari Maleki
Pari Maleki

Khonya Ensemble, a group of traditional Iranian musicians, will be performing at Tehran's Vahdat Hall this week along with Iran's Band of Stringed Instruments.

'Times and Stories: In memory of Gholam-Hossein Banan' is the title of the performance that has been scheduled for August 30-31.

The group is headed by Pari Maleki who is widely accredited as Iran's lady of traditional music.

All the performances she has organized, in her own words, "have a predefined goal and revolve around a certain subject."

"They are not merely a musical performance or just an excuse for entertainment. They always involve a deeply-researched aspect," she told the Financial Tribune.  

When it comes to Iranian music, "Banan (1911-1986) is one of the greatest figures of all time," Maleki said.

"I feel indebted to Banan as he has been a major inspiration all through my career and this performance has been organized to pay homage to him," the songstress said.  

"I always felt that I should perform on stage to fulfill my duty to the maestro," she said.   

Banan in Maleki's opinion "is truly one of a kind, an artist who has pursued music due to a personal love, a higher goal and a deep-found belief."

Given his lifestyle and frame of mind—specifically the fact that he never turned to music only as a means to make ends meet—his work is distinguishable from other masters of traditional Persian music, Maleki says.

The diva added that Banan, in his own time, has created many progressive pieces that "have endured the test of time. He would always select the best and most appropriate lyrics to go with his melodies."

Pieces composed by other masters namely Rouhollah Khaleghi and Nasrollah Zarrinpanje will also be performed by the ensemble.

200 Shows

With over 200 performances since its establishment, Khonya was formed in 1993 as a women-only ensemble.

With her legendary voice, Maleki has been the group supervisor since it was first formed.

Maleki was the first lady to go on stage with an official permit after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1998 the group began performing with a mixed gender lineup.

"Mixed line-ups attract a more diverse audience and create the opportunity for better criticism and feedback," she said.

The group has also had several performances abroad, in Germany, France, Austria and Belgium, to name a few.

"We perform with the hope to induce the much-needed cultural development in music," she said. The pop obsession in music and the fact that the public mostly prefer genres that do not provoke thought and are easy to listen to "only as a cathartic means" is something she'd like to see change.

"I hope that the public will read deeper into music and become familiar with other ambient music and genre," she said.