the legend of BIjan and Manijeh

On February 10, 4 pm, Key Chorale presents Triumph of Love featuring the U.S. Premiere of The Legend of Bijan and Manijeh by Persian composer Farhad Poupel, for piano, choir, and orchestra, with concert pianist Jeffrey Biegel. This evocative work is based on an ancient Farsi love story taken from the Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), an epic poem by Persian poet Ferdowsi written between 977 and 1010 CE. Other love stories, mythical and historical, by composers Jean Sibelius, Gustav Mahler, Daniel Pinkham, René Clausen, and others will be featured.

This will be only the second performance worldwide of this monumental work, The Legend of Bijan & Manijeh, which had its world premiere in Ontario with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in November of 2022. The composition will showcase concert pianist Jeffrey Biegel who is respected for his incomparable performances of the standard works for piano and orchestra and has become the ‘go to’ pianist for new compositions and special recording projects. Mr. Biegel was featured as soloist on the 2019 Grammy Winning recording of music by contemporary composer Kenneth Fuchs and is currently playing a new work, Rhapsody in Red, White & Blue which will be performed in all 50 states over the next few seasons.

“We almost never hear music by Persian composers in our Western concert halls,” said Maestro Joseph Caulkins. “Farhad has set an epic tale from the ancient Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), a poem of more than 50,000 couplets telling the story of creation and chronicling the legends and kings, the heroes, the quests, and mythical creatures, at the heart of Persian mythology. He sent me the score and I was blown away! This is a work by an emerging composer with a unique voice and an opportunity to showcase a Persian story more than 3,000 years old by a Persian artist. What an incredible opportunity.”

Composer Farhad Poupel will be in residence with Key Chorale for the rehearsals and concert. Mr. Poupel is a UK-based Iranian composer, whose works are frequently performed in many prestigious international venues and festivals by today’s leading musicians. Poupel is inspired by stories from literary masterpieces from around the world, poetry, art, mythology, and cinema. In addition to this US premiere by Key Chorale, Mr. Poupel’s Romance and Quartet for the Beginning of Time will both be receiving their world premieres later this year.

The Legend of Bijan & Manijeh is an epic score that I know will resonate with our audience,” said Maestro Caulkins. “Farhad’s music takes you to an exotic world of long ago. With new composition, I encourage audiences to listen as if they are on a voyage. While you may not know exactly where the voyage may be heading, you know it will be one full of discovery. There can be something surprising, or emotional, at every turn.”

In addition to the premiere work, the 100 voices Key Chorale will be featured in charming settings of Three Shakespeare Madrigals by Emma Lou Diemer, Daniel Pinkham’s Wedding Cantata, and a gorgeous setting of the Scottish tune O Waly, Waly by composer René Clausen. The orchestra will be featured in Mahler’s lush and zealously romantic Adagietto from his Symphony No. 5, written as a love letter to his wife Alma, and Farhad Poupel’s Childhood Memories, a 3-movement Persian Suite written in honor of his grandmother.