Kurdish diva Pervin Chakar delves into Mesopotamian heritage

Kurdish diva Pervin Chakar delves into Mesopotamian heritage
The five tracks on the album are sung in Kurdish, Kurmanci, Zazaki, Armenian and Assyrian. (Supplied)
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Updated 31 March 2022

Kurdish diva Pervin Chakar delves into Mesopotamian heritage

Kurdish diva Pervin Chakar delves into Mesopotamian heritage
  • The Kurdish diva pays tribute to her musical roots on new album

ANKARA: The award-winning Kurdish soprano Pervin Chakar may have made her name on international opera stages, but throughout her long and distinguished career she has also focused on the musical heritage of her homeland.

Her new album, “Breath of Nahrain,” proves the point. It is a collection (and reimagining) of the rich melodies of Mesopotamia — the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that is often referred to as ‘the cradle of civilization,’ but is now equally well-known as a site of violent conflict.

The five tracks on the album are sung in Kurdish, Kurmanci, Zazaki, Armenian and Assyrian — thus covering Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Armenia; a reflection of the area’s diverse history and culture. The album’s recently released first single, the Kurdish-language “Heyran Jaro,” for example, is based on a love song familiar to the region’s nomadic tribes.




The album’s recently released first single, the Kurdish-language “Heyran Jaro,” is based on a love song familiar to the region’s nomadic tribes. (Supplied)

“The song is about two lovers who cannot be together,” Chakar told Arab News. “It resembles the big, mad scene — a 15-minute rollercoaster ride of very extravagant music — in Donizetti’s ‘Lucia di Lammermoor.’”

Clocking in at almost a quarter of an hour, “Heyran Jaro” is not an obvious choice for a single. But, as Chakar explained: “I couldn’t interrupt the lyrics of this love story. I wanted to abide by its spirit,” she said.

It was no easy task for Chakar to put the album together; she was meticulous in her approach to ensuring she was singing these ancient languages properly, and in adapting the folk-song source material into operatic form. But her insistence on singing in Kurdish has cost her in the past, with several concerts being cancelled in Turkey and harsh criticism coming from conservative circles. Still, Chakar felt it was too important a record to be dissuaded from releasing it.




Chakar grew up in a Kurdish family in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin. (Supplied)

“These lands were part of a very rich cultural heritage that should be recognized by Western musicians and (the music industry),” she said. “This album helped me to pay tribute to my personal roots and it gave me enormous strength. People continuously fought for these lands, where blood has often been shed; they constantly faced atrocities. But, despite everything, they managed to live together and produce a great musical treasury.”

As an opera singer, Chakar is used to ‘learning’ different languages. She has performed across Europe, singing in — among others — Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, Assyrian, Italian, Yiddish, and German. In a recent performance in Germany, she even sung a Ukranian lullaby, which she dedicated to children around the world.

Chakar grew up in a Kurdish family in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin. She was studying at a conservatory in Ankara when she first heard an album by the legendary diva Maria Callas. It was at that point, she explained, that she knew for certain what she wanted to do with the rest of her life: Become a soprano.




As an opera singer, Chakar is used to ‘learning’ different languages. (Supplied)

Her first major break came when an Italian opera manager visited Ankara. He was so impressed by Chakar’s voice that he invited her to Italy, the birthplace of opera. She attended the Conservatorio di Musica F. Morlacchi in Perugia, from which she graduated with honors.

Kurdish ethno-musicologist Huseyin Erdem believes the true importance of Chakar’s work should be recognized. “Pervin’s works provide people with the opportunity to perceive music accurately — to experience high-quality musical aesthetics,” Erdem told Arab News. “She is a source of light, from which the field of Kurdish folk songs can only benefit.”

“As a musician who has spent years abroad, and has now lived in Germany for a couple of years, I would like to stick to my cultural and linguistic roots, while at the same time singing in the languages of my neighboring communities. It’s kind of a way of thanking them,” Chakar said.

“Although I have sung in several languages — singing in the language of my own land gives me a distinct flavor,” she continued. “We all need peace, calm and tolerance. I’m so lucky that with this album and with my other projects I’m able to be positioned as an ambassador of music for peace.”


US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 
Updated 16 August 2022

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

US artist Grimanesa Amorós to present light installation in Riyadh 

DUBAI: US artist Grimanesa Amorós, famous as the Light Sculptor, is bringing her work to Riyadh. 

The Peruvian-born visual artist will present her latest monumental art installation titled “Scientia” in the Diplomatic Quarter Cultural Palace at the Noor Riyadh festival from Nov. 3 to 19.

The installation is titled ‘Scientia.’ (Supplied)

The installation addresses fundamental questions about the impact of a rapidly shifting environment on the mental, psychological and emotional well-being of individuals living in fast-paced, modern societies.

Her light sculpture was previously showcased at the Azkuna Zentroa Center of Society and Contemporary Culture in Bilbao, Spain.

Amorós, famous for her large-scale light sculpture installations, explores human emotions and connections to the social environment using an elemental understanding of the world involving nature’s basic elements: fire, water, earth and light.

The artist has exhibited her work in multiple locations around the world including Mexico, Beijing and New York City.


Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund
Updated 16 August 2022

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund

Finance for new Saudi filmmakers announced by Red Sea Fund
  • Winning ‘Lithium’ movie tackles bipolar disorder
  • Over $100,000 set aside for 23 individual MENA projects

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s support for the film industry continues with the Red Sea Fund’s announcement of its second-cycle winners, which will mean financial resources to bring their projects to fruition.

The fund, administered by the Red Sea Film Foundation, has allocated about $100,000 for 23 individual projects that will cover production, distribution and screening.

The aim is to provide a more diverse set of movies to global audiences and better serve both Saudi and Arab filmmakers.

“It means a great deal to us that the Red Sea Fund believes in this story enough to fund it. It’s both an honor and a responsibility,” Saudi filmmaker Talha B. told Arab News. He will be co-directing the winning project “Lithium” along with fellow creative Amro B.

The feature film tackles the subject of bipolar disorder and the silent suffering of individuals with mental health issues in the Arab region.

“It is a great responsibility to present this subject in a positive yet honest way, and we intend to do it the justice it deserves … It tackles a subject that we rarely admit we have in our society. We hope that more bold stories like this are told candidly because, like physical health, mental health too matters,” Talha said.

The film is currently in development and is set to premiere at the 2023/2024 Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah.

The rest of the 23 selections include shorts, documentaries, animated films and documentaries, with five submitted from Africa, 11 from the Arab region, and seven by Saudi directors.

The aim is to support young and ambitious filmmakers to carve a niche for themselves in the industry.

“It’s very fresh and exciting witnessing the great things Red Sea films are achieving and presenting to the filmmakers in Saudi Arabia and the world. The funded films speak a lot about the amount of understanding for both the creative process and the craftsmanship behind the walls of their visionary team and their out-of-the-box thinking,” Anas BaTahaf, the filmmaker and upcoming producer of the selected film “Hayat Yousef,” told Arab News.

BaTahaf is teaming up with long-time collaborator Sarah Taibah who will be joining as a screenwriter on the upcoming project that features meaningful character arcs, quirkiness, blended-genres, and “high voltage” absurdity, all packed within a contemporary dark romcom.

“Taibah’s knowledge and thorough understanding of romance — from her various art projects on studying love as a feeling and theme during a wide range of art residencies around the world — is another quality that grants her my full trust when it comes to telling this story,” BaTahaf said.

The aim to tell unconventional stories is the reason for the selection of “Red Eye,” set to be directed by filmmaker Mohammad Jastaniah.

“After so many trials, errors, and rejections it’s nice to see once again that persistence pays off, let alone being supported by the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation — a place I call home. It feels special,” Jastaniah told Arab News.

The film is an “allegory” for the artist’s experience in Saudi, he said. “Red Eye” follows the story of a man navigating the stigma of being a rock star, fighting his own demons, and dealing with his relationship with his father.

“It speaks for those who stand out in the crowd, and there are so many of us out there, especially in these exciting times of change happening in the Kingdom. Pinch me because it feels like a dream,” Jastaniah said.

“I am very excited for our film and all the other films that won (backing) … Local filmmakers deserve all the praise and support,” said BaTahaf.

He said he was looking forward to his friends seeing the “great” films that were made.


Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan
Updated 16 August 2022

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

DUBAI: Hollywood star and humanitarian Angelina Jolie this week honored women in Afghanistan, “one year after the fall of the government.”

The 47-year-old actress shared on Instagram an op-ed she wrote for TIME and said: “It cannot end here.”

In the article, the Oscar winner said: “The daughters of Afghanistan are extraordinary for their strength, resilience, and resourcefulness.”

The actress said that one year ago, Afghan women worked in all fields — being doctors, teachers, police officers and politicians.

“To my Afghan friends, I have faith in you and your resilience and your strength,” wrote Jolie. “I dream of visiting with my daughters, making friends, traveling around your beautiful country, and seeing you free to determine your own future … I know it’s possible. This does not end here.”


Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022
Updated 15 August 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022
  • DJs, rappers, producers sign up to new advisory board
  • Innovation and diversity are key pillars of this year’s event, organizers say

RIYADH: XP Music Futures has created an advisory board of industry insiders to ensure maximum diversity and innovation when it stages its second festival in November.

Among those appointed to the so-called board of advocates and advisors are American rapper Kim Renard Nazel — better known as Arabian Prince — music producer and record label founder Saud Alturki, immersive audio specialist Marcela Rada, digital media expert Natasha Stambuli, and the regional head of A&R and marketing at Sony Music Middle East Karima Damir.

Mohammed Bajbaa, who founded Saudi clothing brand Proud Angeles and fashion consultancy Proud X, Saudi rapper Jara and DJ Space Boi, will also be on the board.

XP director Nada Alhelabi said: “83 percent of last year’s attendees loved XP because of its programming. Partnering with a diverse set of professionals means guests see representation they can identify with and relate to.

“Our trusted board of advocates and advisors serve as one way for us to stay connected to communities … and deliver another great edition of valuable cultural and music exchange, tangible progress and inspire unlimited innovation.”

With its Day and Nite program and focus on innovation through disruptive, forward-thinking methods, XP is the forerunner within the MENA region for the music and creative industries.

It will not only discover and discuss how new technology is the driver of change in the music ecosystem – exploring the fast-moving Web3, the new iteration on blockchain technology and Metaverse – but also bring technology for guests to experience in immersive installations.

Its other core pillars of talent, scene and impact will work to implement ways to flourish careers in the music industry, nurture the scene through workshops and panels, and initiate dialogue around music, mental health and well-being, and their role in creating a socially conscious industry.

“The ultimate objective of XP is to accelerate the development and transformation of the music landscape across the Middle East,” Alhelabi said. “We are grateful to be driving, crafting and optimizing wonders into our world.”

The festival runs from Nov. 28-30. Music professionals and enthusiasts can register at https://mdlbeast.com/events/xp-2022.


Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  
Updated 15 August 2022

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

DUBAI: Iraqi authorities announced this week that they found an original painting by the renowned Spanish painter Pablo Picasso in the Iraqi province of Diyala on Saturday, Iraqi News Agency reported.

The painting, said to be worth millions of dollars, was seized from a drug group after a raid late July. 

Director of the anti-narcotics media office Colonel Bilal Sobhi told the publication: “The Anti-Narcotics Directorate carried out an operation in Diyala governorate, in which a network of three defendants who were involved in the trade and transport of narcotic drugs were arrested, and a painting belonging to the international painter Picasso was seized in their possession, estimated at millions of dollars.”

“It is a major operation that is calculated for the anti-drugs General Directorate,” he added.

Details of the artwork have not been revealed yet. The Pablo Picasso Foundation, responsible for promoting and managing the artist’s work, did not issue a statement either.