“The Voices and Bridges” is an ongoing multi-lingual, multicultural collaboration between musicians from many parts of the world including Alireza Ghorbani (lead vocalist), Bombay Jayashri, Celia Woodsmith, Qaiser Nizami, Michael Kelly, Solange Meridinian, Maya Hobeika, Olcay Bayir and others. This music project is an exploration which brings together languages of ancient cultures such as Persian, Spanish, Arabic, English, Turkish, Bengali, Urdu, Kashmiri and French to create a new story that celebrates different cultural traditions from around the world. The style and genre used in the project is Global Music inspired by different musical traditions. All musical tracks are recorded acoustically. The lyrics are from compositions by many prominent reknowned poets from around the world such as Rudaki, Jorge Luis Borges, Nima Youshij, Pierre Riverdy , William Shakespeare, Allama Iqbal, Lal Ded, Rabindranath Tagore, Nazim Hikmat, Maram Almesri, Forough Farokhzad, and Rumi. The project includes poetry by medieval and modern poets performed by pioneer musicians and vocalists from different parts of the world with original music written and composed by Ehsan Matoori and linguistic and academic advice offered by Dr. Sadaf Munshi. The purpose and mission of the project is to bring together diverse musical and poetic traditions and introduce them to the world to give a universal feeling of music. This is achieved by bringing together, blending and merging the poetic and musical arts of different world cultures in a way that they communicate with each other synchronically and through time.
The inception of the Voices and Bridges lies is a response to the consequences of some of the ongoing geo-political problems and existing socio-cultural challenges which are broader in dimension but similar in nature in different parts of the world. The idea of the project was primarily triggered by the trials and tribulations associated with migration, social and political strife, and general human sufferings. A special motivation came from the composer Ehsan Matoor’s personal struggle in an entirely new country, the United States — a country he migrated to in order to fulfill his dreams but one viewed as an “enemy” by the country where grew up, viz., Iran, where he set the foundation of his dreams and aspirations. The economic and political sanctions on Iran by the US and its major allies in the developed world on the one hand and restrictions on cultural activities put forth by the conservative Iranian regime on the other, have made it extremely challenging for Iranian artists and musicians to freely promote their culture. The project is an outcome of collaboration between artists from various parts of the world with common goals and aspirations.
The intellectual significance of the project is expressed in its scope of including poetic and musical traditions from a broad variety of languages and cultures spanning various time periods. For example, barring a handful of very popular poets such as Saadi, Rumi and Hafiz, a huge body of rich Persian literature and poetry is yet to be explored, examined and exposed to the outside world. Poetic traditions from minority languages such as Kashmiri are yet to be fully introduced to and integrated into the world body of cultural knowledge. Most of these traditions are barely scratched at the surface by scholars if any. The lead project team are cultural ambassadors who bring these treasures to the international stage and present them in an artistic and creative way. The broader significance of the project lies in its being an attempt to challenge the existing socio-political barriers which express in the form of sanctions and restrictions and create hurdles in cross-cultural communication and understanding. Its objective is to connect the world through poetry, art and music from diverse cultures and traditions. Using a series of interconnected themes and cross-cultural tropes that touch various chords of human psychology while also highlighting some of the shared — both bitter and sweet — experiences of the humankind, the core vision is to make one world and unify voices through the common bridge of music. The project is a message for spreading the word of peace through music and poetry as a transformative tool that heals and at the same time connects people.