GEMMA Peacocke’s song cycle “Waves & Lines”, a look into the lives of Afghan women through a stunning and captivating web of deeply personal poetry, was intensely performed at the Canberra International Music Festival.

Iranian-born musician Gelareh Pour, who here assumed the role of soprano voice, alongside Kaylie Melville (percussion), Hamish Gullick (bass) and Jacob Abela (piano) of Melbourne-based chamber group Rubiks Collective, brought the performance to life.

As the vessel for the delivery of the poetry, based on a collection of poems by Afghan women, “I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan”, translated by Eliza Griswold, Pour’s arresting voice founded the emotional core of the concert.

She sang with a tragic weight that lanced the heartbreakingly beautiful words across the music. The rousing instrumentals, performed electrifyingly, intensified the touching poetry.

In my dream, I am the president.

When I awake, I am the beggar of the world.

Gelareh Pour with Rubiks Collective. Photo: Peter Hislop.

The heavy tragedy that encapsulates the poetry transmits a complex pain of war and oppression that can be challenging to approach as an Australian listener. The modernity of the music and words is further striking and immediate and its nature. At the end of the song cycle, the sombre mood erupts into a triumphant emotional release, granting some reprieve from the devastation.

The concert was followed by a discussion on the state of the arts in Afghanistan, the situation the nation finds itself in and the role of nations such as Australia in supporting the people of the country.

This article was written by Joshua Daffern from Canberra City News.

Featured Image: CIMF 2022. Concert 6. A Hidden World. Gelareh Pour with Rubiks Collective:
Kaylie Melville, percussion, Jacob Abela, keyboards and Hamish Gullick, bass.
Photo by Peter Hislop.