Mugham unites nations
The Second International ‘World of Mugham’ Festival ends in Baku
Author: Narmina Valiyeva Baku
On the eve of Novruz, Baku hosted the Second International ‘World of Mugham’ Festival. For one week, our city was the world’s capital of this beautiful, ancient music. Mugham is a kind of trade mark for Azerbaijan and the national heritage of an entire people. This eternal music is appreciated around the world and Azerbaijan's mugham is listed as part of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, demonstrating that the music is the cultural heritage not only of our nation, but of all mankind. The festival opened on 14 March at the International Mugham Centre. The event was attended by the president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and goodwill ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, MP Mehriban Aliyeva, and the vice president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Leyla Aliyeva. In opening the evening, the president of the international festival and first lady of Azerbaijan, Mrs Aliyeva, noted that the holding of the festival on the eve of Novruz was no accident. There are many factors connecting mugham and Novruz. They both have ancient histories and both combine tradition and innovation. As nature uniquely revives, mugham is a free and self-sufficient art that fits no framework. The festival was attended by musicians and experts from the United States, Turkey, China, Iran, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and other countries. One of the first events held at the International Mugham Centre was a concert by Azerbaijani and Uzbek artists. Honoured Artist Tayar Bayramov opened, with a performance of the ‘Shur’ mugham, while the Uzbek singer Yulduz Turdiyeva sang the ‘Shashmaqom’ mugham. Turdiyeva is the artist who was awarded first place at the International Mugham Festival in Baku in 2009. Azerbaijani and Turkish musicians played on the following day. The concert opened with the mugham dastgah ‘Segah’ performed by Honoured Artist of Azerbaijan, Cabir Abdullayev. The Azerbaijani xananda’s opening phrase was greeted with prolonged applause by the audience. The composition ‘Uzun Hava’, performed by the Turkish musician Salih Turhan, also sparked a storm of applause in the hall. Continuing the programme, a concert by Iraqi Turkoman musicians (Anqam Al Rafidan) was held at the Azerbaijan State Museum of Musical Culture. They sang Iraqi mughams, the national song - hoyrat, a song about Karabakh in Turkoman - Nahamat mughams, as well as ‘Baghdad’ in Arabic. On the same day, 17 March, the Azerbaijani State Muslim Magomayev Philharmonia hosted a concert called ‘From Zarbi Mughams to Songs’. The audience appreciated the excellent performances of young singers Ilkin Ahmadov, Qocaq Asgarov, Vafa Orucov, Sabuhi Ibayev, Zakir Aliyev and Rasid Sadiqova, accompanied by the Azerbaijan State Orchestra of Folk Instruments. Connoisseurs of the fusion of jazz and mugham were pleased with the concerts held during the festival at the Baku Jazz Centre. Salman Qambarov (piano) and Faxraddin Dadasov (kamanca) played the first one. A day later it was the turn of presidential scholar and pianist Isfar Sarabski. Along with the works of prominent Azerbaijani jazz artists, the repertoire of the ensemble under Sarabski’s direction included classical music, as well as his own compositions. The festival presented a synthesis of mugham and classical music. The Philharmonia hosted a concert by the Uzeyir Hacibayli Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Faxraddin Karimov entitled ‘Tar, Kamanca, Strings...’. Honoured Artist Zabit Nabizada performed a symphony-dastan by Sardar Faracov called ‘Shah Khatai’. Symphonies by Mirxalil Mahmudov and Azar Dadasov were also played. The variety of genres was expanded to include opera. After the very first performance of ‘Layla and Majnun’ on the stage of the Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre at the festival, Fikrat Amirov's opera ‘Sevil, based on the drama by outstanding playwright Cafar Cabbarli, was also presented. The inclusion of opera in the World of Mugham festival programme was a welcome gift for guests and participants. Additionally, the Azerbaijan History Museum of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences hosted the 7th International Symposium of UNESCO’s ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music) on the theme of ‘Azerbaijani Mugham and Music of the Middle East’. There were presentations by experts from Azerbaijan, the US, Russia, Turkey and Iran. UNESCO representative and Professor of the Paris National Centre for Scientific Research, Jean During, spoke on ‘The Caucasus and the Place of Azerbaijani Mughams in the Iranian Environment’. By tradition, a performers’ competition was also held, attended by 16 xanandas - from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, China, India, Jordan, Iran, Kuwait and Morocco. The jury included such eminent experts and masters as People's Artists of Azerbaijan Arif Babayev and Ramiz Zohrabov, UNESCO representative, Professor of the Paris Research Centre Jean During, Turkish musician and composer Ozan Yarman, American scientist William Sumits and the Iranian composer and musicologist Ehsan Hezrlou. After the listening and discussion, the jury decided not to award the Grand Prix this time. First place was shared between the Azerbaijani xananda Ehtiram Huseynov and the Iranian ensemble Sepehr. They were presented with festival certificates and prizes of 15,000 euros. Second place, with a prize of 10,000 euros, was awarded to a music group from the Chinese city of Urumqi. Third place went to the Moroccan group ‘Maqam’ and an ensemble from Jordan, ‘Sharq Band’; they received 5,000 euros each. The accolade of best performance of the Karabakh sikastasi was given by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to the Turkish singer Yesim Koksal, while the National Conservatoire Prize was awarded to the family group of Jamaleddin Avazov from Uzbekistan. We should note that the Second International ‘World of Mugham’ Festival was organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and the Composers' Union of Azerbaijan.