Image by Fringe Festival Perth
Reviewed by Vivienne Chester
For those interested in music history or in folk music, Asha is a must.
With a mixture of traditional middle eastern folk songs and newer compositions, Dr. Naseri Hudson’s carefully chosen set list aims to introduce this genre of folk music to the West Australian audience.
Songs were sung by Pouran in multiple languages from the area- including Persian, Kurdish, Lori, Turkish, Arabic, Yiddish, and Hebrew. Not only is this range impressive- but it also served to remind one of the diversity within traditional cultures and music practices.
Some songs were also sung with verses in English, which was an excellent way to provide English speakers like myself with more context. In addition to this, before each song Hudson would explain the meaning and history of the piece. That was perhaps the most interesting aspect of the performance. One song was over 1000 years old! It was an incredible experience to watch this being performed, perhaps using very similar instruments to those which would have been used centuries ago.
The five-piece band clearly has a lot of technical skill and training to go around. Kate Pass excels on double bass, deftly working through the complex and heavy rhythms which guide most of these pieces. Nikou Javadi played excellently on a number of traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments such as: tombak, daf, cajon, and darbuka. His solos showed his true skills. Reza Mirzaei played guitar and saz expertly while Pouran displayed his talent on the violin and voice.
When I asked to review this show, I had no idea that my esteemed co-editor, Morgan Maruthiah, was performing in it. I promised myself I would maintain journalistic integrity and not be swayed by his participation. However, I was scared I was going to have to give a negative review of his performance. Luckily, I am pleased to say Maruthiah’s talent on both violin and piano accordion is self-evident.
Asha is a perfect example of why Fringe World exists. It provides the public with an opportunity to experience niche music like this which would not otherwise be widely advertised.
Although Asha has had their last Fringe performance, I strongly encourage the reader to keep an eye out for these musicians in future.