Observations: Persian poet's musical journey

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The Independent Culture

He has performed sell-out concerts across America and in his native Iran. The composer Hafez Nazeri is hoping that this year, his mystical musings inspired by the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi can be just as successful in Britain. "I'm trying to bring the world together with a music that can talk to everyone," says the classically trained Nazeri who is now in London, where he has just recorded his first CD with the London Symphony Orchestra. Nazeri's brand integrates the melodic sounds of the West with those of Iran, to produce a "spiritual journey" based on the work of Persia's great Sufi poet, who has also inspired Madonna.

"I'm bringing a fresh sound to classical music," says Nazeri, a 29-year-old tenor who is an accomplished player of the setar and the tambour, traditional Persian string instruments. "The idea behind it is a political message of unity, of peace and friendship and love."

Nazeri emerged from the shadow of his father, Shahram Nazeri, when he put together a Rumi ensemble while the legendary singer, who has been called the "Pavarotti of Iran" was on tour. But his father encouraged him to follow his own path from a young age: the piece performed by Nazeri with the LSO, Night Angel, was written when he was 16.

Now he is working on a project for a Rumi symphony, whose first cycle was performed in August 2007, marking the 800th anniversary of the poet's birth. Nazeri plans to return to London with his father as part of a world tour. Rumi has become America's most popular poet, and Nazeri senses that British audiences will respond to his bridge-building approach. "The idea of the Rumi symphony is to show another dimension of my country, to show the beauty of the country," he says.

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