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The Martyrdom of the Báb: An Oratorio

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TOTAL LENGTH: 01:05:40
FORMAT: 320 kbps MP3
CATEGORIES: Inspired Music
GENRE: Classical, Religious, Opera

In the Spring of 1844, a conversation took place that heralded a new era for the human race. Speaking to a traveller in the city of Shiraz, a Persian merchant announced that He was the Bearer of a Divine Revelation destined to transform the spiritual life of humanity. The merchant's name was Siyyid `Alí -Muhammad, and He is known to history as the Báb ("the Gate" in Arabic). The Oratorio is a telling of the Báb's Martyrdom in July of 1850.


The Martyrdom of the Báb is an Oratorio for orchestra, chorus, organ and soloists. The libretto is in English and Persian, derived from Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Visitation; the epic account, written between 1888-1892, The Dawn-Breakers: Nabí l's Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Revelation; and Táhirih's Persian mystical poem of Divine love, Point by Point.


Keivan Towfigh, Composer

Li Xiao'an: Producer, Orchestra Contractor and Conductor (Tablet of Visitation) The East Coast Scoring Orchestra / Kristo Kondakçi, Conductor

Robert Honeysucker, baritone: Amir Kabir & Sám Khán
Yeghishe Manucharyan, tenor: Nabí l, quoting the Báb & Mirzá áqá Khán
Victoria Avetisyan, mezzo-soprano: Táhirih
Christina English, alto (chorus leader); Rachele Schmiege, soprano; Lindsay Conrad, soprano; Emily Marvosh, alto; Stefan Barner, tenor; Jonas Budris, tenor; Elijah Blaisdell, bass; Seth Grondin, bass
Leonardo Ciampa / Organ
Elizabeth England / English Horn
Sam Thurston / Flugelhorn
Antonio Oliart / WGBH Audio Engineer
çağdaş Dönmezer / Orchestration
John Weston / Futura Productions (Táhirih's Lament)

1. Prelude: Introduces the musical themes of the piece.

2. Amir Kabir's Edict: The Báb brought a message of hope. Some clerics embraced this message, but others felt insecure about the Báb's growing influence and feared their authority would be threatened by the people's empowerment. They denounced the Báb's teachings and set out to destroy Him and His followers. Controversy raged in mosques, schools and bazaars throughout Persia. Amir Kabir, the Shah's Grand Vizier, ordered the Báb's execution. The second movement presents Amir Kabir's edict against the Báb, and the unheeded protestations of his minister, Mirza Aqa Khan.

3. Táhirih's Lament: Táhirih, the poet and scholar, was one of the Báb's first followers. She played a pivotal role in breaking with the past, championing full equality between women and men. Her devotional poem of tribute to the Báb, "Point by Point," contrasts with Amir Kabir's hatred of Him. The poem is sung in Persian.

(English translation of Point by Point by Amin Banani and Jascha Kessler: http: //

Point by Point

If I met you face to face, I
would retrace-erase!-my heartbreak,
pain by pain,
ache by ache,
word by word,
point by point.
In search of you-just your face!-I
roam through the streets lost in disgrace,
house to house,
lane to lane,
place to place,
door to door.
My heart hopeless-broken,crushed!-I
heard it pound, till blood gushed from me,
fountain by fountain,
stream by stream,
river by river,
sea by sea.
The garden of your lips-your cheeks!-
your perfumed hair, I wonder there,
bloom to bloom,
rose to rose,
petal to petal,
scent to scent.
Your eyebrow-your eye!-and the mole
on your face, somehow they tie me,
trait to trait,
kindness to kindness,
passion to passion,
love to love.
While I grieve, with love-your love!-I
will reweave the fabric of my soul,
stitch by stitch,
thread by thread,
warp by warp,
woof by woof.
Last, I-Tahirih-searched my heart, I
looked line by line. What did I find?
You and you,
you and you,
you and you.

4. The Báb: The Báb told His followers that He would rather be slain by their hands, than by the firing squad. One youth volunteered, and was instead chosen to remain by the Báb's side. When the guards came to take Him on the execution day, 9 July 1850, the Báb told them that no "earthly power" could silence Him until He had finished all that He had to say. One of His secretaries asked for instructions; he was told to remain silent so that he may live to tell the story of what transpired that day. Thousands crowded the rooftops overlooking the barracks square where the Báb was to be executed by firing squad.

5. Sám Khán: The colonel of the Armenian regiment, which was to perform the execution, approached the Báb: ` I profess the Christian Faith and entertain no ill will against you. If your Cause be the Cause of truth, enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood.' To this the Báb replied: ` Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.'

6. March to the Barracks Square: The Báb is led from His cell to the barracks square.

7. Martyrdom: In the heat of the noonday sun, the Báb was suspended by ropes against a wall of the barracks, along with His young follower. Sám Khán's regiment of soldiers ranged itself in three files, each of 250 men, each of which was ordered to open fire in its turn until the whole detachment had discharged the volleys of its bullets. When the smoke cleared, the Báb had vanished. His companion remained, unscathed. Only the ropes that bound them were severed. The Báb was found back in His cell, continuing the conversation that had been earlier interrupted. Sam Khan refused to attempt the execution again. Another regiment was assembled. After the Báb told His captors, "Now you may proceed to fulfil your intention," again, He was shot by a regiment in three files, each of 250 men. This time the bodies of the Báb and His young follower were shattered. The Báb was 30 years of age. Nabí l quotes the Báb as saying, "The day will come when you will have recognised Me; that day I shall have ceased to be with you."

8. The Storm: After the Báb's Martyrdom, historical accounts indicate that a whirlwind of dust engulfed the city, blotting out the light of the sun until nightfall.

9. The Tablet of Visitation: The chorus sings this excerpt from Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Visitation: "I bear witness that the eye of creation hath never gazed upon one wronged like Thee. Thou wast immersed all the days of Thy life beneath an ocean of tribulations. At one time Thou wast in chains and fetters; at another Thou wast threatened by the sword of Thine enemies. Yet, despite all this, Thou didst enjoin upon all men to observe what had been prescribed unto Thee by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise."


American composer Keivan Towfigh (b. 1937, Tehran) immigrated to the US in the 1950s, and spent every spare moment at Symphony Hall and the other great classical music performance venues in Boston. In his music, Towfigh explores themes of spiritual awakening and courage in the face of persecution. Previous musical compositions include: The Healing Prayer (for organ, chorus and soloists) and The Turn of the Year (a 12-piece cycle for 13 instruments).


With deep gratitude: Patricia, Shahani, Leili, Mark, Ella, Milan and Kishi. Loving appreciation: Reza Alavi, Al Bond, Brandon family, Brunel family, Mike Bunting, David Closson, Janice Conyers, Michael V. Day, Ardeshir Djalali, David Elliott at WHRB, Mike Feldman, Doris & Joe Green, Nahid & Hooshang Guilak, Farbod Hagigi, Steven Karodiyanes, Simon Kazangian, Mozhan & Jaleh Khadem, Larry Knight, Al & Joany Lincoln, Elizabeth MacDonald, Shirin Madjzoub, Dan Malis, the Masterworks Chorale, Nikan Milani, Kavous Monadjemi, Daryoush Mostaghim, Brian Li, Billy and Bette Roberts, Mojdeh Rohani, Najmieh Rohani, Heshmat Sanjari, Sapiro-Mitten family, Martha Schweitz, Luke Slott, Kelly Snook, Negeen Sobhani, Abdel Wahab, Nancy Wong, Mahi & Farhad Zahedi, WGBH, all the chorus members, and countless other friends who encouraged and supported this musical work. Special thanks: Sue Brewster, Dean Brunel, Jimmie Cardell, Linda Cardell, Molly Carter, Janice Conyers, Jean Croll Ewer, Peter Fipphen, Maggie Furtak, Larry Gall, Marty Klein, Susan Larson, Joan Lincoln, Lydia Magill, David Magill, Sharon Magnuson, Dan Malis, Bill Masek, Gisela Pikarsky, Dan Roy, Masako Shiotani, Valery Steinbok, Jeff Walker, Jack Ward.

In loving memory of Shadi Ebrahimi, 1971-2015 and Robert Honeysucker, 1943-2017.

For more information: http: // |

Keivan Towfigh - The Martyrdom of the Báb: An Oratorio

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