Heerlen, an old city in the south east of the Netherlands, is perhaps best known for its multicultural arts center, Shunck which is housed in a landmark building known as the Glass Palace. The cultural centre is home to a leading international music school and major musical events throughout the year. Young musicians from all over Europe come to Heerlen every year to take part in the annual prestigious Charles Hennen Competition for piano and string instruments.
Persian classical music has a strong presence in the Glass Palace complex thanks to Hamid Motebassem, the distinguished Iranian composer and Tar and Setar instrumentalist. These Persian musical instruments are taught under his supervision at the Glass Palace, and many students travel long distances from different parts of Europe every week to take part in these classes.
The Mezrab ensemble, founded in 2005 by Motebassem and his students, has performed in major European cities to much acclaim. And his Pardis ensemble set up at Heerlen music school, is an orchestra with musicians from different nationalities, which bring together different cultures and experiment with common musical links.
One of the latest and perhaps most ambitious projects by Hamid Motebassem is the Simorq operetta, based on one of the most beautiful stories in Ferdowsi’s great epic, Shahnameh. This is the story of the love of Zaal and Roodabeh, and Simorq is the mythical bird in the story. It has taken Hamid Motebassem, more than three years to compose Simorq, which is to be performed soon at the Glass Palace opera house.
In this multimedia report by Aisan Maghsoudi, a Persian music student at the Glass Palace we visit the Persian music classes and hear from the instructors and students at the cultural centre.