On different pages in the same book

Mirsaeed tells us about the first workshop with Borealis Ung Komponist 2022!

From the left: Astrid Solberg, Peder Niilas Tårnesvik, Johan Sara Jr, Karoline Wallace, Mirsaeed Hosseiny Panah 
Photo: Thor Brødreskift

Borealis Ung Komponist 2022 started in the first week of September, and the four composers met for the first time together with the ensemble they’re creating music for, as well as their mentors both physically and on screen. The participants had four intense days together – one to kick off the project and three workshop days together with the first mentor, Johan Sara Jr and TABULA RASA

Composer and santur player Mirsaeed Hosseiny Panah is one of this year’s participants. His interest in different genres has led him to study both classical and jazz music, as well as classical music from his home country Iran. Mirsaeed is a newly graduate from Norwegian Academy of Music and is starting his journey as a composer by participating in the Borealis Ung Komponist program. Read his reflection about the first gathering: 

Mirsaeed Hosseiny Panah | Photo: Thor Brødreskift

It’s been so great to get to know everyone, and it’s truly a luxury to get to know  the ensemble before composing for them. I know the mentor Harpreet Bansal a bit from before since she has worked with a Persian musician I know, but I didn’t know the others, and it was a surprise to see how varied our backgrounds were!

I’ve already gotten so many new ideas from the other composers through this first workshop – ideas that I would not have thought of by myself but that I can now test out in my own way. We have all had constructive and interesting feedback for each other, about how to execute our ideas. We have also talked a lot about diversity with Johan Sara Jr, and about his Sami background and perspectives. Our differences feel like the strengths each of us bring to the collaboration – you could say we are on different pages but in the same book! Despite our differences I feel a connection between us, with our intersecting references and our shared motivations. 

Since we just started, none of us know where our pieces will end up, but I got to test out some of the ideas that I’ve been considering. I got to work with microtonality with the ensemble, where I mainly use my Persian perspective but also draw from traditional and contemporary ways of thinking, as well as elements from the jazz mindset on how to work with atmosphere through tonality. This was the first time I worked on microtonality with non-Persian vocalists. I also made the ensemble explore the musical quality of letters with me, by breaking down the composition of sounds and elements that make up a letter, and see where the differences are actually created. It really feels like a privilege to get to know the ensemble’s personalities and strengths, because I get to compose way more specifically just for them. I can utilise each of their specific talents and maybe push their abilities and the general possibilities even further. 

It was almost funny how fast the time went – it felt like five minutes, and I’m so thankful we’ll get to work together over such a long time period! Now I’ll go back home to Oslo where I will continue working on the composition by myself, but with my head filled with new impulses!