- Instrumentation: mezzo-soprano, narrator, English horn & piano
- Duration: 12 min
- Year: 2011
- Language: sung in Dari (Afghan Farsi) and spoken in English (Anjuman/Arterian)
Annie Rosen, mezzo-soprano; Shunori Ramanathan, narrator
Hsuan-Fong Chen, English horn; Suzana Bartal, piano
April 17, 2014 – Sprague Hall, Yale University
Nadia Anjuman (1980-2005) was a brilliant young Afghan poet whose life was tragically cut short, as she was brutally murdered by her own husband at the age of 25. Many of her poems express her feelings of being censored and unable to say what is in her mind and heart – something she was perhaps only able to do in her poetry.
I encountered Nadia’s poetry through the American poet Diana Arterian, who is in the process of translating her work into English, and wanted to commemorate these translations with a musical setting. What started as a single commission for a small event quickly grew into an all-consuming passion project for me. As I became acquainted with Nadia through her poetry, I found that her words resonated deeply with me. I realized that, had she been alive today, we would have been almost the same age.
Musically, I am fascinated by space between two musical and linguistic cultures. My aim in this setting was to combine the understandability of English with the rich and fragrant sonic world of Dari, to allow the English-speaking listener to come as close to understanding Nadia’s original words as possible.
Nadia’s murder was an attempt on her husband’s part to silence her, to prevent her rise to fame as a poet. I hope that my setting of her poetry helps, in some small way, to give her work voice beyond the language and audience for which they were intended. Her voice is individual, but her sentiments are universal.