Karim Al-Zand: Music: Parizade and the Singing Tree

Parizade and the Singing Tree

a folktale for narrator & ensemble

The narrated text for this work has as its source an episode from the Thousand Nights and A Night [Alf laylah wa-laylah] collection of folktales—or the so-called ‘Arabian Nights.’ Parizade’s story is unfortunately not one of the better-known fables in the collection; it is often omitted in the more popular published translations of the work. It is translated, however, in Sir Richard Burton’s encyclopedic edition of the work; it appears as one of his many ‘Supplemental Nights’ (1886–1888).image As is common in the long, episodic tales of the collection, Parizade’s encounter with the Singing Tree is a story embedded within a larger narrative, one entitled variously by translators as The Sisters Who Envied their Cadette, or The Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden Water. I have adapted the story somewhat for the present work. The language used is largely my own, though I have borrowed a charming phrase here and there from the Burton translation and those of Lane and Scott (1863 and 1909).




24 minutes

flute (piccolo, alto flute), B-flat clarinet (bass clarinet), violin, cello, piano, percussion, narrator

Part I. In which Parizade seeks the Singing Tree and hears the Dervish’s warning.
Part II. In which Parizade climbs the mountain and endures the travails of the ascent.
Part III. In which Parizade hears the wondrous song of the Singing Tree.
Part IV. In which the music of the Singing Tree proves to be magical.

Part I: July 15, 1999, Harris Concert Hall, Aspen Music Festival, Aspen CO
Aspen Contemporary Ensemble: April Clayton, flute | Laura Stephenson, clarinet | Lina Bahn, violin | Lisa McCormick, cello | Joshua Nemith, piano | Matthew Gold, percussion | James Brown, narrator | Howard E. James, conductor

Complete: September 3, 2001, Duncan Recital Hall, Houston TX
Syzygy New Music: Leone Buyse, flute | Thomas LeGrand, clarinet | Kenneth Goldsmith, violin | Norman Fischer, cello | Jean Kierman Fischer, piano | Richard Brown, percussion | Randy Lacy, narrator | Michael Webster, conductor

Part I.
Part II.
Part III.
Part IV.