Vieux Farka Toure


Seyed Al Jaberi playing with the 

Hamdel Ensemble

Persian Sufi music inspired by the poetry of

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

Thursday 6th May, 7.30pm  - Live streaming online

In partnership with Shefiield University Concerts


Our first gig since the memorable event with Kefaya and Elaha Soroor on 29th February 2020 was with Sufi maestro Seyed Ali Jaberi playing with the Hamdel Ensemble. It took place online on the 6th May. This was a streamed event in collaboration with Sheffield University Concerts.

It was indeed a strange experience for me being back in the chair again asking the questions, but even more so without a live audience. If you’re not used to it, like me, staring into a black space and fixating on a blinking red light is definitely not the same vibe as having the energy of a live audience in front of you. However...

It was a memorable event for me to be working with Seyed and Hamdel Ensemble. Their dedication and professional attitude was admirable and I was particularly struck by Seyed’s humbleness in all my communications and contact with him. A very different gig for me in a number of ways that has imprinted on me a number of valuable experiences.

My thanks to Don Murray for the photos and Olivia Cox for the review below.


Alasdair Dempster

As the stage lights lowered Seyed Ali Jaberi and the Hamdel Ensemble emerged in pools of light, the strings of the haunting violin like gheichak and accompanying santoor, caught our attention with ‘The Storm shall pass’.  Immediately, we were transported to a place of anticipation, as if a gentle wind and playful raindrops were signalling the arrival of something greater.  Within moments, the percussive Daf interjected, perhaps a distant roll of thunder, at which the full ensemble joined in weaving a tension of repeated musical phrases. An intensity built through the gentle, insistent strings of tanbours, oud and santoor, gaining power as the tempo built and subsided to close on one final, emotive shudder of the Daf.


We heard about how Sufi devotional songs are inspired by the poetry of Rumi and other spiritual writers and how the words and music are repeated and shaped to create a feeling of ecstasy, bliss and awe for the participants and audience.  As part of this performance we were thrilled to have the whirling dancer, Serap, who’s dance symbolises the spinning of the universe and the love of the divine.  Her preparation for this intense period of whirling, is to ‘let go of her ego and be mindful of the present’.  Her presence added a hypnotic and mesmerising focus and a point of stillness at the centre of the movement.  Serap quoted Rumi: ‘Love is the bridge between you and everything’.


The plaintive oud, an instrument that evokes the musical roots of Flamenco, the beautiful soaring vocals of Seyed Ali’s daughter Kimia Jaberi, the reflective chorus of voices building themes of harmony, the trill and resonance of the santoor, each element was woven through these melodies of moods to leave the audience touched by the passion.


This performance was weighted with a depth of historical tradition and spiritual intent.  It was clearly staged for the Talking Gigs and University audience but it undoubtedly reflected the commitment and attention to detail that these masters of devotional tradition demanded.  With this aspiration we were transported to a place of colour and texture, of complexity and emotion.  It was an exceptional performance and a great concert.


Olivia Cox

Photographs by Don Murray