Last night, following the world premiere of The Bricklayer, a chamber opera developed by Houston Grand Opera's HGOco as part of its Song of Houston: East +West initiative, Fared Shafinury of Tehranosaurus took to the stage to play his special brand of Persian music, alternately lyrical and intense.
The Iranian-American (he splits his time between Austin and Tehran) played the setar, a Persian lute, and periodically sang. He had a receptive audience -- those who already knew his work and opera-goers used to hearing stories told musically in languages other than their own.
As it turns out, if you missed the performance you'll have another chance tonight (Friday) when the opera and Shafinury repeat, this time at the Arab American Cultural & Community Center, 10555 Stancliff Road. After that, the opera goes on for two more performances (Discovery Green Sunday and the Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center Tuesday), but Shafinury, with Ali Tarkesh on daf and Kamran Thunder on the Persian ney, do not.
Shafinury, who formed the six-member band Tehranosaurus in 2008, didn't just play and sing (complete with Middle Eastern vibrato); he also explained the setar and how he discovered that as much as he respects Western classical music -- which is where he started out -- he can't stand its limitations.
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Instead he opted for Persian music -- his parents were from Iran -- which, as he plays it, anyhow, adopts the improvising powers of American jazz.
Here's one of his videos to give you an idea of what he can do.
Tonight's performance by Fared Shafinury will be in conjunction with The Bricklayer at 8 p.m. March 16 at the Arab American Cultural & Community Center, 10555 Stancliff Road. Additional performances of The Bricklayer alone are scheduled for 4 p.m. March 18 at the Persian Nowruz Festival at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, and 6 p.m. March 20 at the Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center, 6500 Rookin Street. For tickets and information, go to www.houstongrandopera.org.