‘Shirvanshah’s Palace’, a new instrumental work from Sami Yusuf, features a 57-member orchestra and dazzling solos on oud, kamanche, tar and balaban. The musical narrative is majestic, powerful and intensely beautiful. This piece is performed in Shur mugham [Əbu Əta], evoking an ecstatic mood that echoes the Sufi ceremony of remembrance. Although the sub-mode Əbu Əta (Or Abū ’Atā) is seldom used in recent decades, it has been part of the Azerbaijani mugham system for centuries. The composer has chosen to honor this particular traditional expression here, and in doing so seeks to contribute to the revival of this complex musical language.
Musical Director & Composer: Sami Yusuf
Creative Producer & Director: Andrei Boltenko
Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan: A Timeless Presence is a breathtaking musical odyssey through a rich artistic and cultural heritage. The music was composed, arranged, and directed by Sami Yusuf for the Opening Ceremony of the 43rd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Baku on June 30, 2019. The performance was directed by the renowned creative director Andrei Boltenko.
This newly created cultural treasure comprises nine themes; each theme expresses an aspect of the ethos of Azerbaijan from the land’s earliest inhabitants some twenty thousand years ago to its contemporary realities and aspirations.
With fifty-seven highly skilled musicians under his direction, Sami Yusuf displays his mastery of a complex musical language while staying true to the traditional sounds of the region. The instruments used (except the piano) are traditional instruments from the region including the tar, an instrument so significant that it is said to have taken a role in shaping the cultural identity of Azerbaijanis; the kamancha, the stringed instrument related to the Byzantine lyra and European violin family; and the balaban, a double-reed ancient wind instrument with a plaintive, solemn sound.
Azerbaijan: A Timeless Presence mesmerises with its dazzling musical range from the subtle to the powerful and from the evocative to the majestic. It is the soundscape of a region that displays an underlying universality. These inspired compositions by this renowned musician evoke powerful emotional responses in listeners no matter their cultural origin.