Gabbing with Gord
Gordon Grdina is a Juno award-winning musician, and we’re excited that he joined the Pi team this season as the composer for The Invisible Hand. Gordon is an accomplished Oud/Guitarist whose sound is a combination of his interests in mainstream jazz, free-form improvisation and Arabic classical music. Gordon leads the Gord Grdina Trio, Persian contemporary ensemble Qalander and is half of the free-punk duo Peregrine Falls. He is also a long-standing member of Dan Mangan + Blacksmith.
Pi is presenting Gordon in concert with The Fathieh Honari Ensemble on March 17th at the Fox Cabaret. We sat down with Gordon to chat about the concert and the music for The Invisible Hand.
Can you tell us about the concert happening on March 17th?
It will be a Persian classical concert, really virtuosic with a lot of space and flow and a lyrical quality. Musically there will be a lot of conversations happening between the players and some improvisation too. It’s aesthetically written like classical Persian music but it’s actually new compositions. It uses a lot of the poetry of Rumi and feels similar to Sufi music. It will start instrumental and then Fathieh will join and it will move into more celebratory and fun songs.
It will transport you; you will think you’re in Iran, or Baluchistan, the specific region where the music comes from which covers the border between Iran and Pakistan. If you’ve never heard Persian music before you should come to this concert because it will change your life.
The concert is a chance to experience the music in depth with lyrics and the whole band, and to hear the progression from introspective devotional type songs to the celebration of folk songs.
What sparked your interest in this genre of music?
I got into it through an instrument, through the oud. Growing up, my guitar teacher was always introducing me to different kinds of music from around the world and he introduced me to Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, a north Indian slide guitar guy who had made a record with this Simon Shaheen, a great oud player. The first thing you hear is this oud and the sound just blew me away; I couldn’t understand how you could make that sound with a string instrument. When I got out of university I went and bought an oud on eBay and started teaching myself. I also studied with a lot of great teachers in New York and Albuquerque too. I got to know the Honari family and was introduced to Persian music and we’ve been playing together since about 2002. We know the music so well and know how to listen to each other. We love playing together and Fathieh is one of the most amazing singers ever.
Can you tell us about the music that you’ll be creating for The Invisible Hand?
The music that we’re creating for the play will be improvisations and forms that are all used in the Baluchistan region. Fathieh and her family are from Baluchistan in Iran and when they fled Iran they had to go through Pakistan to get out. The Baluchistan region extends across both Iran and Pakistan and so the music is similar to what you would hear in the region of Pakistan that the play is set in.
I’m composing one big piece with Fathieh and then will cut it up and use it during different transitions, so that the main thought of the musical piece will be to mirror the arc of the play in an abstracted way. There won’t be lyrics, it will be mostly the Oud, vocals and possibly some percussion.
Pi will present The Fathieh Honari Ensemble featuring Gordon Grdina on March 17th at the Fox Cabaret. Tickets are available HERE.
A sneaky listen at what will be on offer on March 17th: