Latifa Noor Elizabeth Anderson is an improvising cellist and vocalist who has performed throughout the United States, Australia, Italy, Germany, Finland, Israel, Japan and India. As cellist of the Meliora Quartet she was winner of the Naumburg Award. She taught for ten years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and currently performs as cellist of the Carolina Piano Trio and with the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center. As a North Indian vocalist and cellist she has also performed worldwide and it was through her connection with Indian raga that she became inspired to create this CD of original improvisations for cello, voice and tamboura. As a recording artist she has recorded for Telarc, Nonesuch, RCA and a solo CD of the transcriptions of Luigi Silva. The process of synthesizing multiple musical styles was simultaneously a musical challenge, a discovery of the shared spiritual qualities of Eastern and Western music and a manifestation of the wish that music might someday be the path to harmony among human beings. This ideal was expressed by Sufi musician and teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan when he said, " Someday music will be the means for expressing universal religion." Pianist Barbara McKenzie, pianist, has been hailed by critics as "a discovery which has charmed us all" (Le Matin). Since 1980 Ms. McKenzie's career has taken her into the concert halls and international music festivals of Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy. She was selected by the NEA to tour as a musical ambassador for the U.S. State Department in eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and for debuts in Leningrad and Moscow. She is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, a conservatory prize winner and is the recipient of many awards and prizes as pianist of the McKenzie-Ware Duo, including the International Chamber Music Competition in Paris, the Young Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York and the International Brahms Competition in Hamburg. Upon returning to her native North Carolina after living a decade in West Germany, she was selected as artist-in-residence by the North Carolina Arts Council. In this capacity, she founded the American Music Festival in 1990 and in 1996 co-founded The Chamber Music Society of Wilmington. NOTES ON THE MUSIC Sufi Prayers These prayers are selections from a group of daily prayers created by Hazrat Inayat Khan as he reached out to his Western students, giving them practices in their own language. They convey the essence of the prayers from his own esoteric training in India. My improvisations were inspired by my experience of Indian ragas, and my love of the prayers. The improvisations are rhythmically free, using tamboura as accompaniment with improvisational lines from the cello and voice. Although there are aspects of formal raga in each improvisation, my intent was to evoke the essence of each raga, allowing the message of the prayer be of foremost importance. Invocation : Welcome to the Divine. Nazar : (glance), a blessing of the food. Saum : (repose), a morning prayer. Pir : (elder) a morning prayer. Salat : (blessing or benediction) a midday prayer. Khatum : (closing) an evening prayer. With Asha in the Redwoods The title describes exactly the derivation of this piece. I am so grateful to Asha Greer and to the Mendocino Redwoods for their inspiration for this solo cello free improvisation. Spiegel i'm Spiegel Spiegel i'm Spiegel, (Mirror in Mirror) was composed in 1978 and exists also in versions for violin and piano or viola and piano. Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, now living in Berlin, has composed for the stage, film, chorus and orchestra. Speaking of his music, the composer says, "I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements -with one voice, two voices. I build with primitive materials -with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are like bells and that is why I call it tintinnabulation. I could compare my music to white light which contains all colors. Only a prism can divide the colors to make them appear. This prism could be the spirit of the listener." Murshid Murshid (honorable teacher) was composed in 1992 by Jim Matthews Grant and arranged in it's original version by Joseph Swensen. The first performance was given in 1992 at the Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, New York to an audience that included Hazrat Inayat Khan's son, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. The original version featured tamboura, voice, violin, cello and piano and was re-arranged by Latifa Noor for tamboura, voice, and cello in 2000 for a performance in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Using the Ziker (Sufi practice of Remembrance) composed by Hazrat Inayat Khan as inspiration, Jim's beautiful lyrics refer to the practice of Sufi Ziker, the presence of a great teacher, and his musical and spiritual muses. Bach Sarabande and Improvisation Although I had always played solo Bach as a classical cellist, my first public experiences with improvisation involved performing Bach as a kind of "Bach Sandwich" with Indian raga as the bread. I began improvising first as a vocalist in raga lessons and performances and then became more comfortable improvising on the cello. Although I always played composed music from the heart, improvisation required that I simultaneously trust the years of study, and the intuition of the moment; truly singing and playing from the heart. Speaking via e-mail about the music of Bach and the purpose of today's musicians, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan wrote, "Bach said that his objective in the art of his music was to formulate a model for the social commonwealth; not the imposition of a melody upon an accompaniment but for each instrument a theme, each listening to each other, restraining it's initiative in the interest of the whole. Such is the symphony of the stars. The world is gradually knitting itself into this commonwealth. We are living at a time when musicians are pioneering in exploring how the music of the East can be integrated with the music of the West. The process is on it's way."
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