The College gets a taste of Persia

The Business Building student lounge resonated with the sounds of Persia on Feb. 4. “An Evening of Persian Poetry and Music” was sponsored by the Title VI grant from U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) as part of the “Iran and Beyond” program at the College.

Students and faculty were granted rare exposure to the culture through a series of songs and poems, coinciding with the College’s effort to expand appreciation for Middle Eastern and Central Eurasian studies.

Musician Kamran Hatami soothed the audience with the tranquil hum of traditional Persian instruments. Among the instruments was the kamancheh, a Persian bowed-string instrument, and the sehtar, the Iranian lute.

Hatami discussed the cultural significance of each instrument and described the different shapes and styles of the kamancheh appearing throughout the world. Of the version he played Wednesday Hatami said, “Anywhere in present day Iran, you will see this instrument.”

Amir Hajian and Sanaz Rezaei of Princeton University accompanied Hatami with readings of Persian poetry. While many of the poems were delivered along with English translations, the audience was encouraged to listen primarily to the sounds of the original language.

“It is impossible to translate poetry,” Hajian said. “In Persian poetry, the music of the words is the most important part.”

The pattern of Persian sounds adopted a song-like quality, providing a rhythm reminiscent of both traditional and modern music.

The reverent silence of the audience was testimony to the profound impact of the performance.

“I thought it was a nice way for the College to branch out,” Maggie Pakutka, freshman international studies major, said.

Thanks to the Title VI grant, more cultural opportunities are in store.