Compiled by Azam Nemati
April 10, 2003
Haj Ghorban Soleimani was born in 1920 in Aliabad, a small village
in the north of Ghuchan in northern Khorasan. Of Turkish origin,
he has lived all his life in Aliabad whose inhabitants are in majority
Turkish speaking. A musician as well as a farmer, capable of singing
in Persian, Turkish, and Kurdish, Soleimani is the perfect example
of the bakhshi. He is one of the last great living bards. He learned
his art from his father, who, in turn, was taught by his own father.
True to tradition, Soleimani has been the teacher of his only son
Alireza. The sons of Alireza, in turn, already hold promise despite
their youth (they are 11 and 15 years old), and follow diligently
the teachings of their grandfather and father.
For twenty years, Soleimani stopped playing the dotar. ``One day'',
he explains, ``as I was coming back from a wedding (after having
been on pilgrimage to Mecca), a Sheikh (Mollah) told me that my
musical instrument was damned and that I too was damned. So I threw
my dotar in a corner and did not touch it until one day, another
Sheikh reassured me that my music was a gift from heaven.''
In the course of his career, Soleimani has been invited to play
at wedding ceremonies in the towns and villages of northern Khorasan.
In his youth, he traveled to Syria, Mecca, and Turkey. Following
the Iranian revolution, he has performed at concerts and festivals
in Tehran. In 1990, he received the first prize for the ``best and
most authentic musician'' at the Festival of Revolutionary Songs
and Music. In 1991, he was invited to perform at the ``Traditional
Persian Music and Theater'' at the Avignon Festival in France.
His art was thus discovered by a bedazzled Western audience. The
press lauded him as ``a true national treasure''. The famous French
cultural magazine Le Nouvel Observateur wrote: ``His virtuosity
and musicality are as natural as they are incredible''. Following
Avignon, Soleimani performed in Paris before an enchanted audience.
The same year, he was invited to participate in the ``Festival of
Iranian Arts'' in Dusseldorf, Germany.
of the Bards from Iran" album
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