Firoozeh Khazrai, a native of Tehran, and Persian language teacher, musicologist, and Iranian-studies scholar at Princeton University, died two years ago of a brain tumor at the age of 46. To celebrate her life and career the departments of music and near Eastern studies at Princeton will sponsor “Les Miroirs Profonds,” the second Firoozeh Khazrai Memorial Concert, on Sunday March 25, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton. The concert will feature the world premiere of works by three contemporary Iranian composers, Farid Omran, Reza Najfar, and Kambiz Taghavi, whose music bears a strong European influence, while remaining loyal to its Iranian roots. Works by Bela Bartok, Ernesto Lecuona, and Amy Woodeford-Finden will provide the European counterpart to these.
Khazrai herself started playing the piano when she was seven — and both of her children, already seasoned musicians, will perform at the concert. Farshad Tahvildar-Zadeh, her 13-year-old son, will play the piano. Farshad, an eighth-grader at Princeton Charter School, will give the world premiere of Farid Omran’s Persian Songs Suite, and Najfar’s Scenes from Childhood. Farshad will be joined by his fellow schoolmate, Julian Edgren, in a two-piano rendition of Malaguena by Ernesto Lecuona.
Khazrai’s eight-year-old daughter, Darya Tahvildar-Zadeh, will make her appearance on stage with members of two string ensembles: the Stretto Youth Chamber Orchestra of Princeton, under the direction of violinist Sherri Anderson, will premiere the string suite Dawn by Omran, while cellist Laurie Porter will direct an all-cello ensemble of young musicians from Westminster in an arrangement of Omran’s Waltz in E.
Composer Najfar, a prominent flautist and graduate of the Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria, will be on hand to give the premiere of his own Folk Songs for Flute and Piano, as well as performing Bartok’s Hungarian Peasant Songs. His long-time collaborator, Erich Faltermeier, who is a professor at the Folkwang Music Academy at Essen, Germany, will accompany on the piano.
The concert’s performers include several members of the faculty of Westminster Conservatory of Music and the Lawrenceville School: Sherri Anderson, Susan Bakshi, Sandrine Erdely-Sayo, Larissa Korkina, Laurie Porter, Kathy Shanklin, and Jean Marie Whaley.
Whaley, a soprano and graduate of Westminster Choir College and a member of Princeton Pro Musica, will perform songs by Omran and Taghavi, and the English composer Amy Woodforde-Finden. She will be accompanied on the piano by Larissa Korkina.
Pianist Sandrine Erdely-Sayo will perform three of the Four Last Waltzes by Omran, while Susan Bakshi will premiere Two Waltzes by Najfar. In addition to accompanying tenor Aaron Schurger in a song by Taghavi, Kathy Shanklin will also perform Invention and Fugue by the same composer.
On a website dedicated to Khazrai, www.anotherbirth.net, her husband, A. Shadi Tahvildar-Zadeh, a mathematics professor at Rutgers University, traces her life from one of her earliest memories — witnessing “the arrest and imprisonment of her older brother, Faramarz, under political charges of opposing the Shah’s regime;” through her music studies in Tehran’s “vibrant art scene” until the 1980 Cultural Revolution shut all the universities down; through her career in the United States and the illness that required four separate surgeries and included participation in a clinical trial at the National Cancer Institute in Washington.
He writes that she died on July 21, 2005, “at ten minutes past ten p.m.,” after spending 17 days in a coma. “It was only a few minutes since I had finished reading the Persian translation of the long poem, ‘Sun Stone,’ by Octavio Paz, to her. That was the first poem we had ever read together, 24 years ago, in the mountains surrounding Tehran, where we had gone hiking together for the first time, the day I gave her my heart.”
Memorial Concert, Sunday, March 25, 6 p.m. Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton. “Les Miroirs Profonds” is the second Firoozeh Khazrai Memorial Concert. Khazrai, a Persian language teacher, musicologist, and Iranian-studies scholar, died two years ago at the age of 46. Suggested donation $20, which will go toward funding the 2008 memorial concert. For more information, the detailed program, and biographies of the artists, visit www.anotherbirth.net/concerts/fkmc2.