Globe West Arts

From Azerbaijan to Waltham, with soul

Alim and Fargana Qasimov bring the centuries-old classical music of Azerbaijan to Brandeis University’s Slosberg Music Center Saturday evening. Alim and Fargana Qasimov bring the centuries-old classical music of Azerbaijan to Brandeis University’s Slosberg Music Center Saturday evening.
By Denise Taylor
Globe Correspondent / March 4, 2010

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A woman’s mournful, ululating voice rises with a sound as lonely as the desert. A sorrowful tenor echoes her lament. The drums quicken. An oboe-like balaban wails, and soon the voices merge into one intensifying cry curling in upon itself, rising higher, modulating faster, and channeling a centuries-old music steeped with melancholy, unrequited love, and wisps of hope. Such is the sound of renowned Azerbaijani vocalists Alim and Fargana Qasimov as they perform their homeland’s classical music known as mugham.

As part of Brandeis University’s MusicUnitesUS program, this father-daughter vocal duo will perform with a four-piece ensemble Saturday night at the university’s Waltham campus. The program draws first on Azerbaijan’s ashiq tradition, an energetic and often humorous folk music. The second portion of the concert moves onto Mugham Bayati Shiraz, a suite of improvised pieces that launches listeners into sometimes ecstatic, often achingly sad, musical terrain.

Both genres are heavily influenced by Turkish and Persian musical traditions, but the haunting melodies of this country, which established independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, remain their own - and this concert offers a rare opportunity to experience them live. Want more? The Qasimovs are in residence at Brandeis today through Saturday with a full schedule of programs open to the public.

Alim and Fargana Qasimov: The Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan 8 p.m. Saturday (7 p.m. preconcert talk with Theodore Levin), Brandeis’s Slosberg Music Center, 415 South St., Waltham. Advance tickets: $20; students/seniors $15. At door: $25/$20. 781-736-3400. Full schedule, tickets, and music clips at

FREE TUNES AND TALES: Three free shows of note take place this week. In Marlborough, the Arts Alliance’s weekly Saturday Morning Discovery Series invites families to don giant papier-mâché masks and take part in an interactive fairy tale. “The Singing, Ringing Tree’’ tells the story of a selfish Spanish princess and the prince who pursues her until love prevails. Puppeteer Sarah Salerno Thomas leads the show as the audience plays supporting roles.

The joyful sound of New Orleans street jazz will also ring out for free in Marlborough. On Wednesday, the always exuberant Made in the Shade will inject a little Big Easy heat into our New England winter with a free concert presented by The Friends of the Marlborough Public Library. This troupe runs on spunk. Formed in 1990 for a Berklee College of Music recital, they went from busking in Boston for change tossed into a banjo case to touring Europe to becoming a New England mainstay. After years of letting the “bon temps rouler’’ at night, they also revamped their act for schools, and now bring the joy of jazz to the young. So this is an all-ages show.

In Bedford, Middlesex Community College’s free spring concert series, A World of Music, kicks off Sunday with Chamber Music for Piano & Strings. Led by faculty member Carmen Rodríguez-Peralta on piano, the members of this impromptu quintet regularly perform with the region’s top ensembles, including the Handel & Haydn Society and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. With Abigail Karr on violin, Sarah Darling on viola, Rafael Popper-Keizer on cello, and Susan Hagen on double bass, they will perform two movements from Quinteto Sobre Los Poemas de Carlos Pintado by Lexington composer Pamela J. Marshall, and the lyrical Piano Quintet No. 2 by Louise Farrenc. Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces for cello and piano will also be featured.

Upcoming concerts in the series include New Music for Viola & Piano on March 27 (Bedford Campus), Race & Inheritance: Music by Black Composers from Africa, Europe & America on April 11 (Lowell Campus), and the Spanish Guitar featuring Thomas Rohde on April 25 (Bedford Campus).

“The Singing, Ringing Tree’’ 11 a.m. Saturday, Marlborough Senior Center, 250 Main St. Admission free. 978-562-1646155.

Made in the Shade 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Marlborough Public Library, 35 West Main St. Admission free. 413-648-9663.

Chamber Music for Piano & Strings 7:30 p.m. Sunday, MCC Concert Hall (Building 6), Bedford Campus, 591 Springs Road. Admission free. 781-280-3923.

ART AND ARIAS: Further south, you can make a day of it by first heading to Zullo Gallery’s new art show, “A Closer Look,’’ in Medfield, and then capping the evening in Milford with Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra’s blockbuster of a concert program, “The Sacred & The Profane.’’

Thirteen New England artists working in a wide range of media zoom in on their own fascinations at the Zullo show, which runs through April 4. From Nan Rumpf’s colorful amoeba-like musings in watercolor to photographer Ronald Wilson’s crisp, rich-hued landscapes to Concord High School art teacher Jeff Fullam’s quirky linoleum prints, this show offers a sampler of both well-known and rising local talents. Meet the artists at Saturday’s opening reception. Also showing are Nancy Daly, Nancy Deveno, Becky Gibbs, Marky Kauffmann, Deborah King, Len Lizak, Cory Rahmberg, David Sholl, Niva Shrestha, and Susan Termyn.

In Milford, Claflin Hill goes for the one-two punch with two classical powerhouses: Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Mozart’s Requiem. Adding their chorus of deep-lunged voices to create this rush of full-throttle sound is the New World Chorale. As much classical masterpieces as auditory spectacle, these works are the big guns, running the gamut of unrestrained emotions from lust, love, and contemplation to gorgeous agony. In other words, even those dubious about symphony concerts won’t be squirming in their seats during this one.

“A Closer Look’’ through April 4, Zullo Gallery, 456A Main St., Medfield. Hours: 12-5 Saturday and Sunday. Opening reception Saturday 7-9 p.m. Admission free. 508-359-3711.

Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra: “The Sacred & The Profane’’ 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Milford Town Hall, 52 Main St., Milford. Tickets: $35-$30, youths/seniors $25. 508-478-5924.

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