Behzad Ranjbaran’s music has been performed in recent seasons by Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell and Yo-Yo Ma among others. In June 2008, Jean Yves Thibaudet will premiere his Piano Concerto, commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony, to be conducted by Robert Spano. Songs of Eternity was written for Renée Fleming, who gave the premiere with the Seattle Symphony, conducted by Gerard Schwarz; Joshua Bell was the soloist in the premiere performances of the Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, also conducted by Schwarz. Bell went on to give the work’s North American premiere with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra , conducted by Mario Venzago, and further performances with Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony. Recordings include Persian Trilogy on the Delos label by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. This orchestral cycle, comprising the works Seven Passages, Seemorgh, and The Blood of Seyavash, takes its inspiration from ancient Persian legends, as recounted in the 11th century epic poem “Shahnameh” (The Book of Kings). Ms. Falletta has also conducted Elegy for Cello and Orchestra with soloist Yo-Yo Ma and the Buffalo Philharmonic, described in the Buffalo press as “ethereal…fragile, almost like a mirage.”

In the summer of 2005, Ranjbaran was composer in residence for the 40th anniversary of the Saratoga Music Festival. In celebration of the occasion, he composed the orchestral overture Saratoga, which was premiered by Charles Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The festival also saw the premiere of Piano Quintet and performances of many of Ranjbaran’s chamber works. In August 2005, International Sejong Soloists premiered Awakening a commissioned work for string orchestra at the Great Mountains Music Festival in Korea as a celebration of peace.

Ranjbaran’s music has variously been described as having “qualities of inherent beauty and strong musical structure that make it a satisfying musical entity” (Henry Arnold, Nashville Scene) and “radiant luminescence” (Cecelia Porter, The Washington Post). Allen Gimbel (American Record Guide) said about the “Persian Trilogy” CD that “Ranjbaran has composed a noble and brilliantly conceived score, spectacularly orchestrated and filled with memorable tunes, meticulous development, and impressive craftsmanship.” The Cello Concerto “is totally lovable…It would bring the house down in concert and deserves to be widely known” (David Hurwitz, and the 2005 Piano Quintet is “full of ideas…fluent and attractive to both performers and audiences” (Joseph Dalton, Times Union, Albany). Accolades continue for Songs of Eternity, which was described in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Philippa Kiraly) as “beautiful” and with “exquisite melismas”; and Joe Riley commented in the Liverpool Echo that the Violin Concerto is “high class, cohesive” and “when the concerto…just sings out a fine melodic line, the effect is ravishing.”

Ranjbaran, born in 1955 in Tehran, Iran, is the recipient of the Rudolf Nissim Award for his Violin Concerto. His musical education started early when he entered the Tehran Music Conservatory at the age of nine. He came to the United States in 1974, where he attended Indiana University and received his doctorate in composition from The Juilliard School. He is on the faculty of The Juilliard School. Named as “Distinguished Artist” by the New Jersey Council on the Arts, Ranjbaran’s honors also include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a grant from Meet the Composer (composer/choreographer project), and a Charles Ives Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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iecontent1 - 27 Oct 2009