Conference of the Birds is a new oratorio based on Sufi mystic poet Attar’s seminal text about the journey of the soul as it seeks union with the Divine. It is composed by Fahad Siadat with a libretto by Sholeh Wolpé and directed/choreographed by André Megerdichian.
The epic poem utilizes a form found in medieval Islamic literature, the embedded narrative, whereby a series of smaller tales and parables nestle within a larger narrative that illustrates and distills the core tenets of the Sufi spiritual path and philosophy, a tradition often considered the mystical branch of Islam. Our hope for this piece is to create an entry point for westerners to share in this spiritual tradition in a format that shows, rather than tells.
Using birds as a metaphor for those on the Sufi path, the story follows the birds of the world who embark on a journey to find their king, the Simurgh, a divine, mythical creature. Traveling through The Seven Valleys, the birds follow the spiritual trials of the Sufi path as they journey to the Simurgh’s door. Each story cuts through the dogmatic teachings of religion exposing the broader pitfalls and yearnings of the spiritual journey and emphasizing the shared values between spiritual traditions.
The premiere performance of this oratorio is scheduled for March of 2022 and will be performed by The Contemporary Choral Collective of Los Angeles and HEX Vocal Ensemble, and featuring Dr. Anne Harley in the role of Hoopoe. The Los Angeles premiere is schedule for the BROAD Stage in Santa Monica in June of 2022.
Additional performances will include a performance by Seattle’s professional chorus The Esoterics, led by artistic director Eric Banks and a tour of the piece in South Carolina. Additional performances TBD.
After the premiere performances, a score will be published by See-A-Dot Music Publishing, inc. and a recording made through the record label Voices of the Pearl. If you are interested in presenting this piece, please contact Hilda Tourians for more information.