Aftab Darvishi


She studied music at the University of Tehran and composition at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, where her teachers included Martijn Padding and Yannis Kyriakides. She studied Carnatic music (classical music from southern India) with Rafael Reina at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, along with film composition. Darvishi’s music has been performed at festivals throughout Europe and Asia in collaborations with ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet and the Hermes Ensemble. She has created countless productions with various companies, including World Opera Lab. She performed at a number of festivals with KHZ kollektiv, the electronic ensemble headed up by Yannis Kyriakides, among them the Holland Festival. Since 2015 she has regularly been invited to give guest lectures at the University of Tehran. In 2017 the Kronos Quartet asked her to compose a piece for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. She has continued her collaboration with the quartet with a new piece for Music for Change– The Banned Countries. She lives in The Hague and in Tehran, where she is musical director of the multicultural organisation RooBeRoo Mansion. Director and librettist Miranda Lakerveld creates stagings for opera and classical music in which the bringing together of cultures, religions and artistic disciplines is the guiding principle. She founded World Opera Lab with this purpose in mind. Important projects in recent years have included Orfeo in India (an adaptation of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo) in Ahmedabad, featuring European and Indian musicians and singers; Erda, an opera installation with music by Calliope Tsoupaki at the Dutch National Opera; De thuiskomst van Odysseus (‘The Homecoming of Ulysses’) in Amsterdam-West, with compositions by Monteverdi as well as traditional music from Morocco and Turkey; Majnun & Leyla, with music from Iran, Morocco, India and Turkey, and a series of debates and operas about conflicts in the Middle East in cooperation with the De Balie cultural centre in Amsterdam. She worked with documentary filmmaker Frank Scheffer on The Inner Landscape, a project about traditional Sichuan opera that combined film and live opera performance which featured at the Holland Festival in 2015. In 2017 she made Temple of Time with composer Sinta Wullur, which was also shown at the Holland Festival. Since 2011 Lakerveld has been researching traditional, religious musical drama in countries including Iran, Japan, China, Mexico and the Tibetan community in India. She has created three previous productions with Aftab Darvishi: Dance with the Seven Veils, Zeynab/Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut and The Sacrifice. The Nilper Orchestra was established in 2006 by artistic director and conductor Navid Gohari to perform contemporary compositions. As the only ensemble dedicated to contemporary music in Iran, Nilper performs works by both Iranian and international composers, and regularly presents world premieres and Iranian premieres of contemporary pieces. The orchestra also brings together talented musicians and artists living and working in Iran, inviting them to take part in its projects. Ever since the orchestra was first established, it has performed two major concerts each year, with a repertoire that includes around sixty pieces of contemporary music to date. Nilper works with renowned composers and soloists from all over the world and invites them to present their work in Iran. The orchestra organises an annual festival for contemporary music. Under the auspices of the ‘Music for everybody’ project, the musicians travel all over Iran to bring together communities through contemporary music. Last year Navid Gohari and the singers Sara Akbari, Niloofar Nedaei and Tahere Hazafe, who all appear in Turan Dokht, received the Music Theatre NOW award for Prometheus/Plague, which was voted the best performance of the past two years. ‘Nilper’ means ‘lotus’ in ancient Persian. The flower symbolises peace and friendship – the way Iran has traditionally approached other countries. World Opera Lab, established by Miranda Lakerveld, creates intercultural operatic performances, undertakes research and gives workshops. The productions transcend cultural difference and take the dialogue between different disciplines as their guiding principle. Societal issues are explored in a poetic way in a cross-fertilisation of the music and dance from various cultures. World Opera Lab’s work is inspired by research into traditional music practices from Tibet, Japan, Guatemala, India and Iran. The WOL has created various productions in the Netherlands (including for the Holland Festival) and beyond. In 2016 they entered into a collaboration with De Balie to create operas about urgent political topics such as the war in the Yemen. In 2017 WOL worked with Aftab Darvishi to produce the performances Dance with the Seven Veils and The Sacrifice. This year sees Turan Dokht premiered, initially in Tehran and then at the Holland Festival.