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Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Showcases Behzad Ranjbaran

FORT WORTH - The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra showcases 2008-09 composer-in-residence Behzad Ranjbaran April 17 - 19 at Bass Performance Hall. Ranjbaran, who has been hailed as a master of the orchestra (Dallas Morning News), is known for his rich orchestration balanced by delicate beauty. The tribute begins with Ranjbaran's lovely Awakening for string orchestra - composed as a reflection on war and peace for the Sejong Soloists - followed by the enchanting Songs of Eternity on the Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam featuring Hanan Alattar, whose soaring voice received rave reviews locally in the title role of Rusalka in 2005. Tchaikovsky's emotionally powerful Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36, offers a rousing conclusion to the concert. Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts.

The concerts start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Learn more about the music at Symphonic Insights, featuring host Shields-Collins "Buddy" Bray, one hour before each concert in the audience chamber. Friday performances have no intermission, slightly shorter programs (Awakening is not included Friday) and the concerts end at approximately 9 p.m. so patrons are free to enjoy the rest of the evening on the town.

Songs of Eternity features nine verses from the 12th century Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam. It is remarkably original as it fuses ancient poetry with elements of Persian music written for soprano and symphony orchestra. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer called it "beautiful... particularly noteworthy were exquisite Melismas (expressive passages sung on one syllable) Ranjbaran wrote on words such as 'sorrow'" and the Seattle Times found "there was much to praise in the score."

On Awakening for string orchestra, Ranjbaran writes: "Preserving the sanctity of peace is a common desire of all humanity. It is hard to understand why humans at times are drawn to war, when prosperity and happiness can be gained by peace. It is fitting to celebrate peace with music, an inclusive art form that transcends time, cultures and generations." The South Florida Sun-Sentinel hailed Awakening as ".... layered textures of ravishing string sonorities. This intense work is an important addition to the chamber orchestra repertoire."

Behzad RanjbaranBehzad Ranjbaran's music has been performed in recent seasons by Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, and Yo-Yo Ma, among others. Songs of Eternity was written for Ms. Fleming, who gave the premiere with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra followed by a Gala concert performance with the FWSO in 2007. Mr. Bell premiered the Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and gave the work's North American premiere with the Indianapolis Symphony  Orchestra, followed by additional performances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. International Sejong Soloists commissioned Awakening for premiere at the Great Mountains Music Festival in Korea as a celebration of peace. In June 2008, Jean-Yves Thibaudet gave the premiere of a new piano concerto commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Ranjbaran's recordings include Persian Trilogy, inspired by stories of Shahnameh, on the Delos label by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta. Ms. Falletta also conducted Elegy for Cello and Orchestra with soloist Yo-Yo Ma and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

Born in 1955 in Tehran, Iran, Ranjbaran received the Rudolf Nissim Award for his Violin Concerto. His musical education started when he entered the Tehran Music Conservatory at age nine. He came to the United States in 1974, attended Indiana University, and received his doctorate in composition from the  Juilliard School , where he is now on the faculty. His honors include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer, and a Charles Ives Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Soprano Hanan Alattar continues to make a name for herself in the United States and abroad. This season, she makes her debut at the English National Opera as Musetta in a new production of La bohéme by Jonathan Miller, with Harth-Bedoya conducting. She recently made her debuts at the Ravinia Festival as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Salzburg Festival in a concert with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Bard Music Festival in Der Zwerg and the Berlin Staatsoper in Manon.

Other recent opera engagements have included Dragonette in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal's Grendel, directed by Julie Taymor, at both the Los Angeles Opera and the Lincoln Center Festival and Zerlina in Don Giovanni and First Maid in Daphne at the New York City Opera. As a New Horizon Scholar at the Aspen Music Festival, her many appearances there included Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, Giorgetta in Il Tabarro, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, and concert performances of Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard and Stravinsky's Les noces. Her many concert engagements include those with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New World Symphony. Alattar received an artist diploma and a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Tickets are $10-$78 and are available online at and by telephone at 817-665-6000. Discounted rates are available for groups of 10 or more. Call 817-665-6500, ext. 150 for details.

These concerts are made possible by the Rosenthal Great Performances Fund and the generous support of season sponsors American Airlines, Park Place Motorcars Fort Worth, Renaissance Worthington Hotel and the Star-Telegram. Promotional support is provided by Star-Telegram and WRR Classical 101.1FM.

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