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number 50
December 1999

News & Letters

pages 2 - 6

Beyond Words, South Africa Performing Arts Group.
The Beyond Words, South African Bahá´í Youth Performing Arts Group is busy preparing itself to organize its first tour, to be started July 2000 and finish 11 months later in June 2001. Beyond Words is a result of the private initiative of two youth (Ali Monadjem and Anis Parsa) studying at the university of Cape Town.

Drawing by TBA
in the ABS art exhibition, Gryphon Gallery, Melbourne, Australia,
photograph by Kouhyar Rowshan, Australia.

Beyond Words will use as many of the arts as possible---dance, drama, singing, public speaking, acting... ...Only 12 performers (6 guys and 6 gals) are needed. So, youth eighteen to thirty years of age from around the globe, interested in doing a year of service, please contact BeyondWords by e-mail: or through the regular post: Beyond Words, 603 Palo Alto, Knysna Rd., Milnerton 7441, South Africa.

Letters from:

Marty and Wendy Quinn performing in the The Seven Valleys.

Wendy and Marty Quinn, U.S.A.
We are pleased to announce the completion of our 90 minute stage adaptation of Bahá'u'lláh's The Seven Valleys. Designed and tested for professional presentation to the general public, it presents Bahá'u'lláh's mystical work through music, drama, dance, singing, drumming, beautiful silk costumes, sets and calligraphy. Performed by the Quinn family, it is a unique integration of art and performance.

The Seven Valleys can be compared to other sacred or spiritually based theatrical productions performed around the world. The tradition of transferring sacred text, stories and spiritual themes to the stage has been longstanding in many cultures...

Michael Knopf, Australia.
The Paramount Project is a book of 38 new songs for devotional community singing. The purpose of the Paramount Project is to assist community development and personal spiritual transformation by increasing the level of quality participation in communal singing within the Bahá´í community. This music incorporates texts from the Bahá´í Writings suitable for a wide variety of abilities and is appropriate for any individual or group wanting to use music in devotional practice.

Songs are mostly a cappella and includes hymns, spirituals, chants, round and part songs. The Appendix contains reference materials including musical scales and the col-fa associated with them.

Order the book:Michael Knopf, 12 Cilento Close, White Rock, Qld 4868, Australia.


Cost AUS$33 including postage payable by cheque, money order, or credit card. Orders from the US, Canada or the Caribbean AUS$28, Orders from within Australia: AUS$24.

Ryan Telfer, Canada
...My involvement in music has been a significant part of my life and it has really changed me. As a child I have always listened to music. Anything from Bahá´í children's song to the popular music of the 80's...
In high school I formed a rock band with my friends and swithced from guitar to bass, which is now my primary instrument. I still play in this band. although we don't do covers, we play almost all original material, which I have helped to compose and write lyrics for...

Ryan Telfer, Canada.

Letter from Bruce Grover, U.S.A.
In my mind a musician is one who produces a sound that touches the head, heart or hips of a listener. 'Abdu'l-Bahá says that music is a ladder for the soul. We tend to think about this ladder business fairly simply but I think that ladders for the soul take the soul to where it needs to grow. And as we all know, growth can happen in very, very odd ways and very, very odd times. Consequently, avant-garde noise, hardcore punk, blues, salsa, Gregorian chants, ragas and all of Earth's many sound-poems can all be ladders for the soul.

Letter from Lindsey Shields, New Zealand.
My tour from Dunedin northwards and back again was lovely. You could call it a working holiday, but really there was nothing like hard work about it. I really enjoyed my concerts, the audiences who listened to my stories, the opportunity to share some time and experiences, meeting new people who took the time to talk to me. I learnt that doing what you really like to do is easy, it feels like love, perhaps it is. Surviving financially and doing all sorts of organising feels more like hardwork, less like love! The tour worked so well because I had it organised by someone else, a tour promoter called Gill Winter of Flying Piglets. She did most of the planning and negotiated guaranteed fees for all the concerts. So it really was my job to just go out there and do good concerts, stress-free! That was a key part of its success.

On a global scale, in fact, on any scale, this was a small tour. Seven gigs over the space of three weeks and none of the audiences big. I had never played at any of the venues before and had only ever visited one. They moved from a quiet Sunday in an Irish bar, through local halls, one house concert (with a tiny audience) and some folk clubs...

I have been feeling very comfortable about my solo performing. Of course there is a certain level of nervousness beforehand, but nothing like the anxiety which has been a great weight holding me down. I think its been a matter of confidence too, which has nothing to do with how "good" your work is, or what other people think of it. Always I would think I needed other musicians around me to make my music okay, or that I should be able to perform in any situation, no matter what - bar, cafe, where ever. Of course, the personal themes in my songs is completely unsuited for those situations so I set about working for my kind of audience - people who want to listen to my stories...

Letter from Jan Lopez, U.S.A.
Here are a few thoughts on the subjects of artistic perfection, passion and professionalism.

Through many years of exposure as a musician, I have come to the conclusion that in this world there are basically three kinds of approaches to any endeavor: (1) technical, (2) passionate, and (3) where that unique individual manages to combine both approaches into their art/work and creates a pure heavenly experience, clear and simple.
In other words, there are (1) people who do what they do, and (2) people who are what they do, and (3) then those who are and do what they do.

However, I would like to speak here about those of us who fall somewhere between technical and passionate on the scale. Most of us, if we are honest about it, are on the path to one or the other and are hopeful of striking a good balance between the two.
In the first, one comes close to perfection in areas of training and application, while in the second, although generally not as perfect in application, one carries a level of energy that in a sense takes the listener or reader into an area of appreciation that doesn't require validation by technical standards. In the third, the art speaks for itself, balanced and beautiful; the artist is just a conduit.
There are times when we see/read/hear artists who make "technical mistakes", who do not hit all the notes, who forget or misread lines, who stumble, who design outside the standards: and yet, even though we are aware of all these things, we really do not care at all! Why? Because whatever it is that they did, they caught our hearts and souls. They don't care if they perform to one person or 20,000. Or just the sky itself. The burning passion demands release, so they release it.
If any artist is feeling sensitive to comments others make regarding our art forms, then perhaps they need to examine internally what brings up that feeling. We artists sometimes forget that we do not need to compare ourselves to others, and often we just do it automatically, without thinking.
Striving for achievement does not have to include putting others down. Nor does it have to do with setting ourselves apart from others. Our art forms will speak to our skills, training and abilities we do not need to make a special effort to seek approval...

Letter from
Caroline Ruizeveld, The Netherlands.

By Caroline Ruizeveld sculpted in Indonesia.
The third part of my sculpting triglogy ends with working on the island of Bali for 3 months, ending in February 1999. Each day I travelled by small bus from Ubud, a painter's village, to Batubulan, a long street full of sculputre shops. Here lots of men sat sculpting between the numerous sculptures of Balinese and Hindu gods and demons. I took my place behind on such shop, sitting on a cardboard on the damp ground among the mosquitoes. I found the stone very difficult... the stones used for sculpting, cut from a riverbed, were damp, soft, full of holes and not to be trusted...
In short I had to completely adjust all my ideas about sculpting to this new situation and this new type of stone, using tools borrowed from one of my co-sculptors there.
My next barrier was language. Not one of the 14 men I worked with spoke any English, so it was hard to explain that I had not come to copy Balinese sculptures but to be inspired by them in making my own work which was more abstract...

Letter from Mark McDowell (U.S.A.)
I'm a member of the Iowa Bahá´í Schools Committee, and at last year's Winter School I presented the idea of putting together a school orchestra to perform at this year's summer school. The idea was enthusiastically received, so I volunteered to do the work.

First came the music. I wanted to do two pieces, one with the orchestra and choir (that would also a part of the school) together, and one instrumental. I had composed a piece for cello and guitar called "Royal Falcon" after the 'Abdu'l-Bahá quote referring to Bahá´ís as ". . . royal falcons on the wrist of God..." I liked the melody and decided to arrange it for the orchestra. It has a Spanish feel to it and I loved the cello part. I also thought that doing a familiar song with the choir would be more likely to be successful, so I arranged Anne Biswell's song "Home of Peace." ...

The orchestra consisted of one flautist (experienced), one clarinet player (about 12 years old), one trumpet player (about 16 years old), one bassoonist (about 14 years old), three violinists (a 15 year old, a 40+ year old and a 50+ year old ), two cellists (both very good and about 18), and a pianist (8 years old) for "Home of Peace," and an adult for "Royal Falcon". The 8 year old played the maracas in "Royal Falcon."

The musicians had received the music about a week and a half before the school, which, needless to say was not really enough time for the level of experience that most of the orchestra members had. Then once summer school began we had four days to come together as an orchestra. The first two days were sheer panic. It was my first conducting experience and I attempted to use consultation -with mixed results. Eventually some of the Bahá´ís present at the rehearsals encouraged me to just be firm and insist on discipline. It was hard for me to do so, but I succeeded.

The music was difficult since the pieces were in keys that required some of the musicians to use a lot of sharps and flats. Also, because this was my first conducting the third day, I could actually hear the music I had composed and arranged...
The fourth day, we performed the pieces for the closing ceremonies of the school. It was well received. The participants were happy and said they'd do it again if the school wanted another orchestra... I'd do it again! It can only get better. It was a terrific experience for me...

Letter from Nina Bailey, U.S.A.
Impressions from the 1999 Voices of Bahá Tour

On July 25 this year, the RiverExplorer departed from Cincinnati on her first Bahá´í Musical Travel-Teaching tour down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. I decided to jump on board. The tour sounded like a unique fun-filled opportunity for deepening and teaching. However, it unfolded into one of the best vacation and soul-inspiring experiences of my life!

I flew into Memphis and boarded the 198 passenger river barge, the first and only hotel barge on America's waterways. There, I met over fifty talented dedicated servants of God, mostly singers, with a common mission to teach and live the Bahá´í faith. Down the Mississippi River the RiverExplorer sailed towards New Orleans propelled by the towboat, Miss Nari. Along the way we docked at various towns giving free public concerts. The performances were fabulous and the melody of Baha'u'llah's words were sung to " thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all ..." (BahBahá'u'llBaháh, Bahá´í Prayers, p. 5, 1954 edition).

Marcia Day, promoted the tour by traveling ahead on the road. A total of over 2500 people attended the concerts over the two week tour. Although the "Voices of Bahá" were composed of thirty-five singers, they sang like a choir of over a hundred. Love and unity filled the concert hall and it felt like the Abhá Kingdom on earth! Red Grammer gave children shows that always got the children jumping out of their seats, and the Bahá´í Gospel Singers almost brought the roof down several times. Chris Hampton performed, The Noble Thief, a musical about transformation that incorporates principles from the Bahá´í Faith. (info from:,

Letter from Pam Brode, U.S.A.
Here are some impressions of the ten day "Harvest Tour" (May 1999) through the Southern States and Ohio with Eric Dozier and the One Human Family Choir, and the recent two week "River of Life Teaching Trip" (July-August, 1999) through the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers with Tom Price and the Voices of Bahá Choir. I thank my family for their support and the North Carolina Bahá´í communities for enabling me to participate in both events.

The music sung by the two choirs differed greatly, but the spirit was the same. Both tours were happy, joyful, learning experiences and strong affirmations of the power and effectiveness of teaching the Faith through the performing arts. From personal experience I can say that I am not aware of any other method or modality of teaching in which the Faith can be presented so directly to so many people at one time in a more attractive and appealing package.

Although the spirit and purpose of the two teaching trips were similar, the nature of the tours differed greatly. The Harvest Tour which promoted the Bahá´í message of unity in diversity through traditional African American gospels and spirituals, was, as most choir tours, physically strenuous and exhausting. The Riverboat Tour, which was an experimental teaching project utilizing many different types of music and drama, involved travelling in ultimate luxury. Also, the Riverboat Tour was a national teaching project using the arts. The air conditioned barge was equipped with a lovely theater. Nights were particularly spectacular when the stars came out and shimmered upon the lovely moonlit river.

Every day, choir members had the option to begin their mornings on the upper deck with dawn prayers, while watching a glorious, hazy red sunrise appear over the river. Then following a sumptuous breakfast, the entire choir met in the theater for prayers and readings. Following devotions, Jena Khodadad, facilitated an enlightening, well-researched and extremely inspiring deepening on the Dawn-Breakers that incorporated visual aides, music and dramatic readings. For me it was particularly exciting to learn about the Babi heroines from that period.

Following the noon-day meal of banquet proportion, soloists and choir members would often meet for rehearsals, but there was also usually some free time for the participants to sneak off and do some teaching. The crew members were really quite splendid - always gracious, friendly, courteous and accommodating. They seemed to love our performances, and it was not uncommon to walk through the halls of the barge and hear over loud speakers various CDs of Bahá´í musicians singing the praises of Bahá'u'lláh. I really had to chuckle to myself the day one of the chief officers walked passed me singing aloud to himself, "Bahá'u'lláh - the Glory of God"!

Beginning at 3 pm, it was SHOW-TIME! On most days, five different shows would be presented throughout the afternoon and evening. The barge would stop at port, where local Bahá´í communities had done the publicity. It was truly amazing that crowds of people actually waited in line outside the barge before our shows because we were in the midst of a sizzling, record-breaking heat wave all through the first week of our tour.

There were also a number of volunteers on the barge who helped guide people to the theater and helped with information. Bahá´í booklets and pamphlets were displayed on a table near the entrance and Bahá´í CDs and cassettes of the performing soloists were for sale at a table outside the theater.

First on the program was Red Grammer, a Bahá´í who is a multi-talented children's performer. He gave a show at every port. Not only is Red an outstanding singer, composer and children's performer, but he is an excellent Bahá´í teacher. In his shows he mentioned the Faith frequently and was able to promote the teachings in a very gentle, non-preachy manner that appealed to both the children and parents in the audience. At 4 pm, a variety show was presented by various performers, followed at 5 pm, by singers, Van and Cookie Gilmer, their son Sean, and Adrienne Ewing-Roush, who dazzled the audience with the beauty of traditional African American gospel and spiritual music. The purity of their voices sparkled.

Later in the evening, Chris Hampton, a Bahá´í from Florida, a skilled actor, playwright, composer and singer, performed in an original solo musical play, "The Noble Thief," which is about a tough "hoodlum" from the Bronx, New York. In the play, the "thief", who accidentally learns about Baha'u'llah, eventually embraces the Faith, and, of course, is completely transformed.

My favorite time of the day began when the clock struck 8 pm. Dressed in black and wearing my royal blue satin choir shawl the choir quietly entered the darkened stage. Being a soprano, as well as the smallest member in the choir, I stood in the first row, center stage. Rhythmic shakers began to rattle, drums began to beat, and the sopranos came in softly with the African folk song sung in the Zulu language, "Siya Hamba". Lights dimmed over the audience, and stage lights beamed brightly on the choir members, who simultaneously turned on their brightest smiles. At every port, we sang our hearts out.

During intermission and after the concerts, the choir members had the opportunity to meet with audience members and it was a lovely time for socialization. After the visitors left the barge, most of the choir members would go up to the sky deck to soak in the Jacuzzis (such sacrifice!!), eat popcorn, or just relax on the chaise lounges, chatting with fellow choir members, or simply gaze over the river.

Because the tour was much more relaxing and less strenuous than other previous choir teaching trips, many of the participants felt they had greater opportunities to get to know each other on a deeper level, and extremely close friendships grew out of the experience.

My favorite moment of the tour took place in Louisville, Kentucky, when the choir sang on another barge that carried a giant, 66,000 ton "Peacebell". In front of a huge crowd of people standing on the dock, all of whom had come to see the mammoth Peacebell, our choir sang three songs: the Bahá´í Prayer, "Blessed is the Spot", an old-time Spiritual, and ending with "Y Bahá 'u'l-Abhá,". Before we began singing, Tom Price looked at the choir and said, "Okay, let's bless this bell." We sang, and the resonance of our singing under the bell was really quite exquisite - it sounded as if angels were singing from Heaven. However, it wasn't until the choir sang the last song with the "Greatest Name" that Tom Price finally nodded his head in approval and said, "Now it's a "Peacebell!" That night hordes of people packed the theater abroad the barge to hear our concert!

The concert soloists were stellar, including Red Grammar, Van and Sean Gilmer, Lucy Dube, Paul Seaforth, Adrienne Ewing-Roush, and the Price Sisters (Rachael, Emily and Juliette). The 30-member choir was also marvelous - rich food in the tummy and all. It was a tour well worth the memories!


pages 6 - 7

Arts Weekend in Canada
Cheryl Cudmore Canada.

Jack on the box, oil stick and charcoal, 1993,
by Dave Taylor, U.S.A.

Bahá´í artists and friends from the U.S. and Canada gathered in Brackley area, Prince Edward Island, Canada over the weekend of August 14-15 to attend the first annual Arts Weekend of the Atlantic Provinces.

The purpose of our event was primarily to meet to discuss how the Bahá´í artists of the Atlantic Provinces of Canada may advance the process of teaching and propagation of the Faith through the arts. There was also discussion of forming a network of Bahá´í artists from the region as well as making the Arts Weekend an on-going annual event.

The activities of the weekend included a show of visual art by the artists; Kathleen Bunin, Catherine Moir, David Taylor, Angela Kelly and Cheryl Cudmore. Through the day of August 14, we also enjoyed poetry readings by Angela Kelly, Francine Giroux, Ashley Alvis and Catherine Moir. There was a presentation about The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys of Bahá'u'lláh by Ashley Alvis (of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.) which addressed the various stages of the journey of the human spirit towards God. This was followed by a reading of poetry inspired by The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys of Bahá'u'lláh by Ashley Alvis and Cheryl Cudmore...

Next year, registration information will be made available in late April or early May so that there will be ample time to make better plans and arrangements and hopefully to attract a larger number of artists and friends to attend.

page 7

North American ABS Conference
Susan Lewis-Wright U.S.A.

The Assn for Bahá´í Studies conference this past June in Tempe, Arizone incorporated the arts into it better than any Bahá´í conference I've participated in or attended to date.
...Susan Lewis Wright opened the program singing Don't Laugh At Me, a song depicting the pain of labeling and name-calling.
On Friday evening a group from Phoenix performed traditional Turkish dance, singer/songwriter, Susan Lewis-Wright gave a 40 minute concert, and three indigenous Bahá´ís from Alaska , members of the Drums of Light, performed and gave a presentation on the "demystification of the American Indian", which was educational, entertainig as well as painful, as it exposed the racism and oppression fo the native peoples...

pages 7 - 8

The Creative Inspiration, Arts & Culture in the Bahá´í Faith
Conference organized in Melbourne, Australia by the
Australian Bahá´í Studies Association,
held at the Melbourne University, 21st - 26th September 1999.

Report from the Association for Bahá´í Studies of Australia.

The Association's 18th Annual Conference on the Arts and Culture attracted more than fifty presenters and performers, and approximately a hundred and fifty participants. The conference included workshops and seminars, a dinner, an exhibition, a play, and a concert. Its aim was to provide an opportunity for those involved in the arts in the Australian Bahá´í Community to meet each other so as to become informed of each others' work, to bring the arts to the wider community, and to foster discussion of critical issues facing Bahá´í s in the arts at the present time.

The first three days consisted of workshops in drama, the visual arts, creative writing, dance, and music. Sessions were conducted by Jan Coker, Maxien Bradley, Grant Hindin Miller, the Centre Theatre Company, Ruth Park, Artworks Visual Arts Theatre, Greg Parker, Shirin Lagha'i, Kath Podger, Michael Knopf, Ron Price, and Michael Phillips.

Painting by TBA
in the ABS art exhibition, Gryphon Gallery, Melbourne, Australia,
photograph by
Kouhyar Rowshan, Australia.

  The Visual Arts Exhibition, held in the Gryphon Gallery in the University's splendid 1888 Building, was officially opened on the evening of 23rd September, with a reception and music by the Melbourne choir, "Breezes of Harmony". Over the next three days the work of twenty artists attracted hundreds of visitors. The exhibition included work by J.J.Jannu, Karel Fontaine, Steve & Angela Clark, Vahid Payman, Ruth Park, Chris Reid, Kath Podger, Diane Arjomand, Katayoun Mottahedin, Claus Barabbas Mayrhofer, Anne Williams, Yvonne Chapman, Terry Eichler, Lorni Hyland, Sonja van Kerkhoff, Ebrahim Malekzadeh, Haifa Mehdizadeh, Mehrzad Mumtahan, and Carolyn Newport.
From Friday to Sunday participants chose between forty or so sessions, almost all focused on the arts. These included performances and seminars on poetry (Ron Price - "The Passionate Artist"; Belinda Belton - "Bahá´í Poetry: the Power of the Word", Narelle Kinneally Tolstoff - "Spiritual Symphonies"), Literature (Jamshid Fanaian; Camilla Fligelman "Is it nearly impossible for a mere human being to write a good work of art with a religious theme?") and Music (Michael Knopf); artists presentations about their own work (Kath Podger; Sonja van Kerkhoff, Jan Coker "Mnemonic", Steve & Angela Clark "Making a living whilst maintaining artistic integrity - The Artists Dilemma"; Karel Fontaine "The Creative Impulse: Symbolism and Seeing", Robin Chandler: This Artist's Life: A presentation of twenty-five years of life and work as artist, administrator, sociologist, and CEO as one model to integrate the life of art into spiritual service & teaching", Monir Rowshan "Inspiration/Visualisation of Dreams") and thoughts on the artistic process (Philip Hinton "The Search for the Beloved: The Artist as Spiritual Voyager", Ben Hinton "An exploration of the diverse concepts of creativity, imagination, and inspiration"; Negin Sanaei "Creativity and Spirituality - are they related?"; Simon Hinton "Will Celine Dion Eat the World? - Globalisation and The Cultural Marketplace").

There were also papers on the position of the arts in the Bahá´í Community (Mahyar Amjadi "Arts Can Move the Youth"; Bahá´í Institute of Performing Arts "Performance: A Sacred Act", Simon Hinton "Artists, Institutions and Money - An Unholy Trinity? - Arts Funding and Infrastructure Support in the Bahá´í Community"; Robin Chandler "Building Creative Communities: approaching the arts as social & economic development through professionalizing, training, and networking internationally.

There were also presentations on other subjects (Sepehr Manuchehri, "The Practice of Taqiah (self-denial) in the Babí & Bahá´í Religions" and Graham Hassall "Current issues in Bahá´í Scholarship"). Neda Rahmani presented "The Asia Pacific Newsreel", and there was a display by fashion designer Afsoon Missaghi.

Lunch times were given over to the launching of publications (Michael Knopf "The Paramount Project - New Bahá´í Devotional Songs for Community Singing") and a website (the Victorian Bahá´í Community Website official Launch), and a demonstration of wood carving by South Australian artist Chris Reid.

On the evening of Friday 24th September the Association presented an evening of performance at Performance - Melba Hall. Those present were privileged to experience a three hour program featuring Amir Farid, Artworks, John Grey, Greg Parker, Alice Chew, Jamshid Hatami, Behzad and Anis Khoshmashrab, Vafa Ferdowsian, Michael Knopf, Grant Hindin Miller, Ruth Rowshan and Bernardo Soler (Nougat). Special thanks goes to Erfan Khadem for assistance at the concert, and to Master of Ceremonies, Omid Master.
The Conference Dinner attracted more than a hundred guests, who enjoyed an outstanding premier of jazz classics performed by Kylie Richardson, and Grant Hindin Miller's personal journey into the creative life. In the closing session of the conference, Philip Hinton performed his solo play "Portals to Freedom" at RMIT's Kaleide Theatre.

Wood relief by Chris Reid
in the ABS art exhibition, Gryphon Gallery, Melbourne, Australia,
photograph by
Kouhyar Rowshan, Australia.

Did the conference meet its aims? For new ABS Board member Vahid Payman the conference exploded a number of stereotypes sometimes experienced in the Bahá´í community. In particular he mentioned a middle aged Persian man singing opera from Mozart's Don Giovanni - who would ever have thought..., the brilliant fusion of scholarship and art in the life and work of Robin Chandler, and Narelle Tolstoff's poetry performance which had eight year old children and seventy year old adults spellbound (not to mention those between these two extremes!), and Grant Hindin-Miller's personal story of search, love, wonder, and all the other Valleys..."

page 8

Impressions of the ABS arts concert
by Kris Bernard-Urrutia, Australia.

It opened with Greg Parker doing a couple of ballad-type songs, then Amir Farid, our eighteen year old classical pianist. A wonder boy, from Melbourne did a fifteen minute set of three classical pieces that were just incredible diverse and quite stimulating for the audience as well. A young fellow from Dizzy Dance, Vafa Ferdowsian, gave a good dance performance with a multi-media slide presentation going on the screen behind him, which added a very special effect. Jamshid Hatami sang a couple of well-known classical numbers from opera in Italian, well done and one quite humourous!

Another Melbourne Bahá´í, John Grey, who plays trumpet here professionally did an absolutely fantastic jazz medley of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue accompanied by a woman on grand piano. The piece lasted about ten to twelve minutes and every moment was different and stunning. He had special caps to put on the trumpet which made it sound like a variety of wind instruments, as the piece was written for piano and a full wind section!!

Then to finish Behzad Khoshmashrab and his fourteen year old son Anis did a few lively Russian and Persian violin numbers, with son playing piano and electronic keyboard in accompaniment. Again fantastic.

And all this was just the first half of the program!! To start the second half, Ruth Roshan and Bernardo Soler performed playing classical guitar and mandolin together, some lovely pieces with a Latin American - Spanish sound. Then Alice Chew, a beautiful young, ballerina did a very evocative ballet number en pointe called 'Maid of Heaven' to create imagery of the 'maid of heaven' that Baha'u'llah saw in the Siyal Chal. Michael Knopf followed with two guitar pieces. It was just incredible to see how his fingers flew move so magically up and down the neck of guitar. Grant Hindin Miller followed with a few songs. He was so well loved here and played so beautifully that people virtually would not let him leave the stage. Of course, last but certainly not least came Artworks. With new numbers and more even more variety of dance and music in the show...

Costume by Karel Fontaine
in the ABS art exhibition, Gryphon Gallery, Melbourne, Australia,
photograph by
Kouhyar Rowshan, Australia.

pages 8 - 9

Two workshops and a session at the ABS arts conference by
Michael Knopf, Australia

For the Paramont Project Workshop about 20 people learned to read basics quickly and we went through about 11 songs. I presented the Cheve system of rhythm language for notation. Each note has its own syllable... ...We learned each piece by reviewing its rhythm using Cheve, its melodic pitches using Solfa , and then the text was added and practised until learned. The aim of the workshop was to make the group independent of a teacher. We broke into smaller groups each of which had the task to learn a new song on their own with only a little help from the facilitator. Most groups got most of their songs correct after having only a rudimentary introduction to the systems used...

My presentation, ´On the Edge of Failure´ reflected the risk taken by spontaneous creators (such as Jazz improvisationists and free improvisation proponents) in creating something meaningful for audiences...

Demonstrations of spontaneous composition were conducted on the classical guitar using jazz, classical, flamenco techniques and drumming sounds...

page 9

Painting by TBA
photograph by
Kouhyar Rowshan, Australia.
Book Review, The Seven Year Hitch - A family Odessy
by David R. Grant

reviewed by Carolyn Sparey-Gillies, U.K.

In an age where travel is associated with holidays in the sun, cheap flights to Disneyland, and for the more adventurous, organised hikes through the Himalayas, "The Seven Year Hitch" proves that the human spirit is still occasionally driven by a sense of adventure and the unknown.

This book is the story of some of the adventures which befell us during our seven years travelling around the world with our horses and caravan, the author, David Grant, begins his preface; he goes on to explain that the primary purpose of the trip was to give his children a wide look at the world they will inherit, in the hope that experience of different places, peoples and cultures will enable them to become more understanding, caring, tolerant and wiser citizens of it than if they had simply slogged through the National Curriculum.

The children, being 10, 9 and 6 respectively when the adventure began in 1990, fill the pages of this book with their extraordinary achievements and their ability to be responsible in situations which most of us will never even dream of. Their resilience is matched by the horse, Traceur, who managed to pull the caravan more than half way across the world, despite various mishaps and several bouts of ill-health; his unspoken story threads its way through most of the book, until the reader is thoroughly captivated by his enormous spirit and individual personality. David Grant carries his reader, day by day, mile by mile, through the beautiful highways and bye-ways of our planet, moving ever eastwards across Holland, France, Italy, Austria, Hungary and the Ukrain, towards Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and the great Pacific beyond. At times joined by his wife, Kate, who was unable to accompany her family for the entire seven year trip, David not only saw to the day to day business of keeping his family fed, washed and warm, but also found himself, at times, bureaucracy which only superhuman patience and a stream of local heroes helped him through.

It was while passing through Mongolia in 1995 that David met some Bahá´ís and made the decision to become a Bahá´í himself; My best memories of Mongolia, he writes, were and remain the warmth, simple sincerity and decency of most Mongolians, in one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. Personally, the highpoint of our eleven months there was my acceptance of the Bahá´í Faith. A recognition rather than a conversion...

Here, then, is a travel book with a difference; adventure, intrigue and suspense fill the pages alongside poetic descriptions of the landscape, and the every-day problems of simply staying alive. David Grant's panoramic view of the world, experienced from grass-root level, is readable, fascinating,and often humorous; in his own words, we discovered that the world is full of a truly remarkable number of kind, warm-hearted and decent people. Yet nearly all of them ... not excluding ourselves ... come equipped with a baggage of in-built preconceptions, misconceptions and frequently prejudices. In dedicating thisbook to my family, our three gallant horses and the three dogs, I hope that in a small way, which is the only way possible for most people, we did something towards breaking down those barriers and increasing understanding and harmony.

The Seven Year Hitch -A Family Odyssey by David R. Grant, published by Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-684-85802-9

pages 9 - 10

Gallery as Tabula Rasa
Site specific installation by
Karnik at the Cafe Gallery, London, U.K.

Review by Michèlle Fuirer, U.K.

...Karnik has made a series of highly charged, playful, interconnected site specific works. Debris, ephemera, leftovers, scraps and scrapings, dirt and pigment, carrier bags and cheap paper, have been installed in the gallery space in various guises. Striding paper figures, bird forms, dogs, shadows, ropes and lines range through the space.

Karnik's work readily makes visible the physical act of drawing, of inscribing and carving lines, of cutting or tearing, of making pigment and paper malleable.

Drawings originate from marks made by stain or blot, or use wire or tape to describe lines in space. In improvising from materials ready to hand, or transforming found materials, the artist suggests the process is akin to the mental act of sifting through stores of information, drawing upon the conscious and unconscious alike.

Detail of the site specific installation,
Tabula Rasa by Karnik,
Cafe Gallery, London, U.K. 1998.

In spite of what the chosen materials may suggest, the process operates far more by design than by accident. Each work in the exhibition connects, both to site and to each other, juxtaposition and coincidence is carefully contrived to make an ensemble...

Bird in search of a cage,
detail of the site specific installation,
Tabula Rasa by Karnik,
Cafe Gallery, London, U.K. 1998.

...Opposite, in ´a cage in search of a bird´, a dead blackbird is hunched in a chrome cage. Next to it, simply pinned to the wall, is another bird. Dry, wizened, miniature, every fine detail of its feathers and talons take on the quality of a soft drawing. Alongside, some frenzied and heavily gouged marks in the plaster have struck through to the bricks beneath. The text cage in search of a bird is scored into the wall. This scratching is an intrusion: the skin of the building has been pierced. The suggestion of pain, rage, frustration, or of the desire to despoil, to break open or rupture the surface, suggests a mischievous willfulness that could be dangerous to know...
...Balanced with humour, there is a mournful undertow present here which seems to connect with the idea of the city as a place of lost souls, who, made of the very stuff with which they are surrounded have become one with the flotsam and jetsam. Mute birds and daft dogs are the travelling companions.

A battered portfolio mounted on a pulley invites us to give its handle a tug, this action activates a drawing to move in the opposite direction on the line above...

The artist uses the site itself and its windows as alternatively, a shutter to exclude, or an iris to focus an image for the eye. The places the artist constructs, as in fairy tales and myths, can be both safe and unsafe; forests which tangle up and conceal, or forests which open out and create a magical new world.

At one level the work suggests a reading of containment and repression, encasing the microcosm of the artist's world within the gallery, and then within the macrocosm of the park in the network of the city. A series of concentric circles of meaning embedded within each other seem to place the observer at the centre of the experience.

pages 10 - 11

CD: Bahá'u'lláh's Way: A Song Cycle
Doug Shaffer Project
by Lynne Rach, U.S.A.

The ´song cycle´ part of the title is a clue to the journey the listener will undertake in hearing the songs in order. The title track, ´Bahá'u'lláh's Way,´ leads off like a teacher unveiling the light to a seeker. Then follows ´Traceless Friend,´ which musically reminds one of something that might have been performed by Sting, where the listener bears witness to the seeker´s first steps in search for the Beloved.

The Doug Shaffer Project,
Bahá'u'lláh's Way.

Subsequent songs admonish the seeker to be steadfast (´Don't Be Foolish´), to persevere (´Shorten These Days´), to keep focused on the horizon (´Mountain Rising´), and to struggle for spiritual life (´Release Me´). The solution to the struggle is revealed in "Turn to the Light," after which the goal is visible in "New World in This World." The awakened soul travels though a very jazzy ´Walk Through This World Together´ before reaching the best song on the CD, ´Just One,´ which advises: Try your very best, hold the note you sing, hold it while others take a breath of spring, sing it by the river where God passed by, it's all just one sweet lullabye...

Artist Profile

pages 11 - 13

Jeremy Martin, singer/songwriter, New Zealand.

Jeremy Martin.

At present I am working as a soloist, singing and playing acoustic guitar. My style has developed in such a way that I work more with vocal rather than instrumental improvisation. The songs on my latest album are concise recordings of the material in my songs, but my live performances develop the improvisational moment more, with the audience.

One way that my songs come to me is by my crafting a particular moment, story or image into song, a process that can mean months of development. One example of this process is my Dream Song. In 1998, while working on my previous album, I set about writing a song cycle. I wanted each song to stand in its own right, and the progression of songs to have meaning as well. I used an arbitrary modulation scheme, with each song alluding to the musical ideas of the previous and following songs, to give a subconscious sense of connectedness within the whole cycle. Some melodic themes also appear in different guises throughout the cycle. The cycle moved through group experience, to personal experience, then spiritual, mythical and transpersonal experience and finally returning to the group, community and family...


page 13

by Scott Cudmore, Canada

an excerpt

Make no mistake, daughter
When you dance upon the Earth
It stops your feet by pushing you back hard.

One of Newton´s Laws of Motion says
You exert a force back upon the Earth and
The Earth moves.

Just in case,
detail of Tabula Rasa, installation
by Karnik in Cafe Gallery, London, U.K., 1998.

Twelve Strawberries on a Terra-cotta Plate:
A Mediatation
Cal E. Rollins, U.S.A.

...but the Son of man hath not where... Matt 8:20

They rest on a cherry table, polished, old,
its body bowed like a corseted lady.
Lemon wall and curtains, softer yellow,
move together in the open window. Yellow
cat eyes stare in the shadow
where the berries are cool.

In another life, I pluck their stems,
feed them one by one. Hold the cup too,
know it better, drink deeper than all others.
I pull down the sky as a coverlet for the Son
of man, scattering, foxes and birds; soothe that
sweet brow; play on my lyre the music
that bridges peace at this time of day
when air is cooling.

from No Roosters in This Blue City, 1999,
Kalimat Press, U.S.A.

Beneath the Skin, 1991,
Kilkenny limestone sculpture
by Peter Randall-Page U.K.


pages 13 - 15

Making Your Own Books
Kim Hodges, U.S.A.

The program Pagemaker does everything, as far as I know, needed to set up book pages, allowing text to flow from page to page. The editors at A Small Garlic Press use it and produce saddle-stitched (center-stapled) small poetry books...

However I use Word for my broadside (a single sheet presentation of poetry, often tri-folded, and used as a handout) although, the graphic presentation is more inconsistent and a struggle...

A book of 100 pages is probably too much for the stapled approach... For a hundred pages you probably need perfect binding (that's the glue binding on commercial books), or even tape binding...

You can also print books on your home computer printer, if the book is not too large and you don't need a lot of copies at one time. If it is a laser printer, the quality might be better than some kinds of photocopy. This way, you can do a book at a time as you need it, and avoid a large investment in printing costs and materials.

A Small Garlic Press:
Kim's broadside is available for downloading as a pdf file under 'broadsides' (click on the battleship). If you have any questions or information on this topic please email Kim Hodges at

page 15

Thoughts on Art and Meditation
by Annette Poort, The Netherlands.

...I am also discovering that we are all potential artists. We only have to awaken to the truth that our lives are a creation. It is our own lives that are the most amazing works of art...

The question is 'who are we?" What is it that we want to "be" as works of art? One way to create your life as a work of art is as follows: Sit quietly and just notice your breathing. Is it a deeply harmonious experience within you, or is there tension, stress, impatience, lack of joy, tiredness, irritation, etc? How do you experience this action which is the very basis of your life? Sit and gently feel into what it that is that is really happening. Why can you not aloow yourself the time and the space to experience yourself? What beliefs have you been taught and what beliefs are you buying into each day, which ignore your own inner-being, and which allow you no time to experience all that you are?
Now lie on the floor and just experience what happens...

Photographs and Illustrations of work by:

Claire Janssen, The Netherlands, Ryan Telfer, Canada, Karnik, U.K., Peter Randall-Page, Mikhail Kobyakov, Belarussia, U.S.A., Ropata Davis, New Zealand, Philip Kwesiga, Uganda, France, Caroline Ruizeveld, The Netherlands, David Taylor, U.S.A., Ruth Park, Australia, and Kevin Tilbury, Lithuania.

Translations, editing, layout, by:

Kathleen Babb, Japan, Alison Marshall, Aotearoa / New Zealand, Steve Marshall, Aotearoa / New Zealand, Sonja van Kerkhoff, The Netherlands.

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
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