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

Parizade and the Singing Tree

a folktale for narrator & orchestra (also version for sextet)

Parizade and the Singing Tree sets a charming folk tale from the Thousand Nights and A Night [Alf laylah wa-laylah]—or the so-called ‘Arabian Nights.’ Unlike Aladdin, Ali Baba or Sindbad, Parizade is not one of the better-known figures in the Arabian Nights. But her story is an inspiring tale of adventure and empowerment. It recounts the quest of a young woman in search of a magical Singing Tree, a quest for which many princes and noblemen before her have failed. The work exists in both a chamber and orchestral version, both with narrator.

The fable of Parizade is often omitted in the more popular published translations of the work. It is translated, however, in Sir Richard Burton’s encyclopedic edition; it appears as one of his many ‘Supplemental Nights’ (1886–1888).image Parizade’s quest for the Singing Tree—in which “many princes and noblemen” before her have failed—is an exciting story full of determination and wonderment. As is common in the long, episodic tales of the collection, her 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).

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24 minutes

narrator and orchestra: winds: 2*2*2*2* | brass: 4210 | timpani | 4 percussion | harp | piano/celeste | strings (min 10-8-6-6-4)

also exists in a version for narrator and sextet: flute (*piccolo, alto flute), clarinet (*bass clarinet), violin, cello, piano, and percussion

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.

Orchestral Transcription: August 5, 2018; Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra | Cristian Macelaru, conductor | Nora el Samahy, narrator.

Sextet Version: 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

Sextet Version: 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.

orchestra version:


sextet version:
orchestra version: