SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Track 2: Ocean of the Heart (Iran)

Toraj Kiaras & Amir Sam

Performed in the musical mode (Dastgah) of Mahur, this selection of classical Persian music begins with a setar solo of the Daramad ('overture') performed by Amir Sam, followed by setar-accompanied singing by Toraj Kiaras of some of the following pieces (gusha) also in this mode: Nasirkhani, Muradkhani, Azarbayjani, Gushayish, Hisar, and finally, return to the overture.

An English translation of the Persian poem (ghazal), composed by the 19th century Persian Sufi poet Habib Khurasani, and sung by Toraj Kiaras, is as follows:

Every night till dawn, my heart and I
Make the tavern home
And sing each other in abandoned melancholy
Wild tales and song.

In the circle of those whose life has come to nothing,
We are among the number bereft of heart;
Not fit to sit with savants or the learned,
Nor to meet sages and those of the Academy.

Our hearts we've cleansed of spite;
Our breasts we've made a looking-glass
And in it glimpsed the image cast
From a beloved's face.

The stones of street children falling on our backs,
Taunts, the world's scorn in our faces,
But in our hearts, we are alive through Love.
Be it wise or mad: let the flesh be mortified!

We would live without a thought for self,
Neither content nor wishing to find work:
Like a lion in its den,
Like a bird nesting upon a limb.

We are sunk in the azure of the heart's dark ocean,
We are drunk from the wine of the heart's blue glass,
And yet we have brought the mother-of-pearl beyond any price
From that ocean of the heart.

- Translated by Leonard Lewisohn


Mr Toraj Kiaras

Mr Toraj Kiaras is an accomplished maestro of Persian classical singing who was for many years employed as a performing vocal artist at the Ministry of Art and Culture in Tehran, Iran. He trained under many of the great Persian musicians of his day such as Abdullah Davami and Mahmud Karimi, and has performed for international audiences with such leading Persian masters as Hossein Dehlavi, Hushang Zarif, Rahmatullah Badi'iy, Muhammad Ismaili, Faramarz Payvar and Ebadi. Now, residing in England, he teaches group voice lessons at the Centre of Music Studies, SOAS. 

Amir Hossein Sam

Mr Amir Hossein Sam was born in 1978 in Tehran, Iran, where, from a very early age (9), he studied the setar with Behnam Vadani. At present, he lives in London, where is studying medicine at the University of London, and working on perfecting his knowledge of the setar in particular, and Persian music and singing in general.