Vocalist Fargana Qasimova visits Brandeis during ground-breaking tour

Azerbaijani singer to perform on campus March 7


Fargana Qasimova

When vocalist Fargana Qasimova first came to Brandeis in 2010, she was performing in the shadow of her father, Alim Qasimov, a music icon in their native Azerbaijan.

Qasimova is now stepping out on her own, embarking on her first solo tour with stops around the world, including a return to Brandeis where she will hold a residency through the university’s presenting program, MusicUnitesUS, and a performance Saturday night, March 7 in Slosberg Recital Hall.

A singer of mugham, the classical urban music of Azerbaijan that has Persian roots, and Ashiq folk songs (troubadour songs with Turkic influence), Qasimova's tour puts her front and center performing a style of music where women have been historically limited in where and for whom they can perform.

"This tour is ground-breaking. Traditionally, mugham has been male- dominated," said Judith Eissenberg, professor of the Practice of Music and director of MusicUnitesUS. "What Fargana is doing is crossing boundaries and transforming her own tradition.  She is the only woman on that stage, front and center, and her powerful voice leaves no soul unturned.  She is fearless, and her music is revelatory.” 

MusicUnitesUS looks to make cultural connections and further understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures through music. Established at Brandeis in 2003, MUUS has three tiers: the intercultural residencies, a public school program and the world music concert series.

Along with her concert on March 7, Qasimova and her band will visit classes in various disciplines, including women's, gender and sexuality studies, anthropology, music and studio art. Ethnomusicologist Aida Huseynova will be traveling with the musicians to provide explanation, translate, and give the pre concert talk Saturday night.  A visit to Waltham Public Schools is also scheduled.

"We're really curious about hearing Fargana speak about her life and her work, as a woman, and as a worldclass artist from a part of the world we don’t often encounter at Brandeis, " Eissenberg said. "This time she will be the focal point; that's interesting to us."

Mugham is the Sufi-inspired indigenous classical music of Azerbaijan. Its structure features song suites that offer a framework for both improvisation and fixed compositions. The ensemble typically features a long-necked lute called a tar, a kamancha (spike fiddle), a balaban (double reed) and a naghara, a drum.   The vocalist traditionally takes the lead role in mugham, singing and playing the hand drum, the daf.

Qasimova has recorded and toured internationally extensively with her father. She released her first solo album last year.

Tickets for the show range from $5 to $20 and are available online at Brandeis.edu/tickets or by calling the Shapiro Center box office at 781-736-3400.

Categories: Arts

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