Aftab Darvishi at the DoelenEnsemble

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In its upcoming online concert, the DoelenEnsemble will focus on the Iranian/Dutch composer Aftab Darvishi. Her work distinguishes itself by its unusual combinations of instruments and music from different cultures, mostly inspired by singing. Especially for this concert, Darvishi has arranged two of her earlier compositions. Get to know her music and the two new pieces, in which movement plays an important role….   


Aftab Darvishi composed Plutone for a performance with three dancers, directed by Elisabetta Consonni. The music for this performance was entirely electronic. Consonni describes Plutone’s performance as an experience following a vipassana meditation, ‘as an opportunity to reflect on the relationship with the world, made of delicate balances between the inner self and the outside’. The title refers to the dwarf planet Pluto. Floating in the last zone of our solar system, according to Consonni it is an invisible, but also powerful planet. Pluto asks the ego to empty itself of all needs to appear, of all the paranoia of power and of all false structures.

Live Instruments

About two years ago, Darvishi decided to make a Plutone version in which the dance was accompanied by live instruments. But then came the corona crisis, which turned all modes of performance upside down. ‘Considering the new situation, unfortunately, we were unable to have the dancers and we decided to go with the music. The new setup was puzzling because this time music had to speak alone and by itself.’ For the new purely instrumental version, Darvishi searched for a sense of infinity and boundlessness in the music. Like a movement that never stops. A concept that is so relevant to this time: Future and how to connect to it.

A thousand butterflies

Darvishi originally composed A thousand butterflies for alto saxophone and piano, a work inspired by and dealing with immigration as a phenomenon. The title refers to thousands of people who migrate, as well as their individual experiences. ‘I chose 1000 butterflies as title because I think immigration is such a personal and versatile experience. It has as many versions as the individuals who have experienced it. I see this versatility like the countless colours and shapes the butterflies present. I also really like the idea that butterflies fly freely without any boundary or limit.’ Like Plutone, constant movement is an important element of this composition, also brought into focus by the video accompanying the composition.

New arrangement

For the DoelenEnsemble concert, Darvishi has arranged A thousand butterflies for clarinet and piano. The work takes 10 minutes and consists of three parts. The piano and clarinet have a musical conversation on different levels. In different phases, the music reflects on the journey, the movement of people, and the ever-changing concept of a home. Darvishi says: ‘I think the concept of “Home” in today’s world is constantly changing. Where is home? Is it one’s birthplace? Is it the place where we make a family? Is it the place where we feel we belong? There is not one home, but the concept of a ‘home’ is in our heads. This idea moves with us wherever we go.’

More info

Aftab Darvishi at Donemus