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This Week’s Six Pillars Show – Warp and Weft with Kronos Quartet

1980423_10152277631308048_401553448_oTar o Pood is Persian for warp and weft, both terms that have some etymology in Old Persian (Pers. baftan “to weave”) probably because, as some Iranian mothers like to point out, the Middle East was weaving silk while Europeans had not evolved beyond pelt. And this is for once not a misquoted affirmation, for in our interview with epic violinist and Kronos Quartet founder David Harrington, he reveals that their work is still very much centred on a politics heavily informed by the group’s feelings about their own country’s heavy-handed foreign policy and misplaced treatment of minorities. Since the first concert of George Crumb’s Black Angels about the Vietnam war broadcast on the radio, which Harrington heard and recalls thinking it “something wild, something scary” and “absolutely the right music to play” this has been the mainstay of their direction in commissions and performance locations. For example see the below piece Music From 4 Fences, by Australian composer and performer Jon Rose. For those of you familiar with Aboriginal history, you’ll grasp the significance of playing on barbed wire fences.

About Sahba Aminikia: we’ve played works by this composer before on the show, and are happy to have him back with this ambitious project, his second with the quartet. The first piece was Threnody for Those Who Remain in 2010, dedicated to Aminikia’s father. For Tar o Pood, Sahba spent months trundling around Iran with some superior mics recording weaving processes. During the performance the players wear headphones, playing along with the work songs as sung by Iranian weavers. The audience hear the weaving cleverly interspersed with the piece. Aminikia’s grandparents were carpet weavers from Kāshān and his grandmother’s singing was also used in the third movement of the piece.

sahbaThe Performance: using more avant garde techniques to perform while also playing notes, the strings imitate the rhythm and the registers of the weaving. The result is a piece of exploratory contemporary classical music with strong roots in Persian classical. The context was San Francisco’s Switchboard Festival which amongst many things, included a show of works inspired by actor Nicholas Cage.

Six Pillars to Persia:  an in depth interview with David Harrington accompanied by samples of the Kronos/Aminikia rehearsals.

Broadcasts Thursday 17th April 19:30, repeats Sunday 06:30am GMT Listen on 104.4FM if you are one of London’s 7 million inhabitants, otherwise online