Saeid Shanbehzadeh leads the Bushehri Traditional Music Ensemble. The group provides a rare insight into the fascinating music and dance traditions of the Persian Gulf region of southern Iran.
Music from Bushehr reflects its long and varied history during which it has changed from a quiet fishing village to a war zone to international trading center and back again repeatedly. Over time, immigrants to the city have included Arabs, Indians, Africans, Armenians and Jews, who have been trading in cloth, metals, spices, indigo, tea, rice, sugar, pottery, porcelain, and wood for shipbuilding.
Located along the northeast coast of the Persian Gulf, the city of Bushehr also shares in the region’s long history of harvesting the sea, including the pearl diving which is known to have been practiced there since before 2000 BC.
Fishermen’s songs, called naymeh or naghmeh, describe the courage of sailors and the lives of saints, or entertain with humorous lyrics. Dancelike instrumental music called bandari (from the harbors) is thought to represent the city’s oldest instrumental musical form. Improvised songs of humor and satire, called yasl-khani, accompany work with the help of rhythmic hand-clapping.
Among the region’s musical instruments presented at the festival will be the ney-anbon (earliest-known bagpipes, originating thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia), ney-hindi (indian flute), damman-ishkun (double-headed bass drum), boogh (ram’s horn trumpet) and senj (metal castanets). In a dance known as maulidi, performed around the birthday of the prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.), dancers sit in a circle and move their upper torsos in rhythm, gradually entering into a state of trance.
Saeid has studied with the greatest Bushehri masters since he was a child and today he is a master of the ney-anbon, dammam and traditional dance.
His ethnomusicological research has allowed him to collect an immense repertory of Bushehri music in all its forms.
Hour Saeid lives in Paris, where he works with the Cie Montalvo/Hervieu, National choreographic center of Créteil and Val de Marls, for the creation 2002 “Babelle Heureuse.