Zemestūn (2018) (زمستون) – for SATB choir a cappella (6′)
-Commissioned and premiered by the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers (Phillip Brunelle, cond.) at ICEhouse, as part of the VocalEssence ReMix Program which is funded by the Jerome Foundation.
This traditional Persian poem for Wintertime reflects on the cold season in the north of Iran. In my setting, I have chosen to set the work from the perspective of my father, from South Iran, experiencing snow for the first time. He lived in Abadan, a small coastal town right on the border of Iraq, for his whole childhood, and first witnessed snowfall when he was 21, traveling to Tehran to serve his mandatory military duty. I still remember vividly his descriptions of this special time in his life, his eyes glazed with nostalgia and roses for his homeland and a seldom snow-encounter for a boy from Abadan.
The work is structured in a handful of scenes in the snow, all with the incessant plodding of gullé (ball), the constant shades of snow. The opening, full of the ambivalence of any new experience (my father admitted he was a little scared of the snow), eventually builds to a confident and joyful pace as he becomes accustomed to the snowfall; however, the weather picks up, the urgency increases and the uncertainty builds. To escape the barf (snow), he retreats inside to the warmth (garm) of the heater and a friend. His confidence returned, he returns outside, the snow falling harder than ever, but now with joy and exuberance for this continuously falling blanket. After a thorough billowing, the snow dies down, and he and the other soldiers go on their way.