I could not believe that one day I would hear about a concert being held in our small town by an Iranian musician and composer based on the story of Bijan and Manijeh by the poet Abu'l-Qasem Ferdowsi. Our town, is located on southwest Florida, whose its Iranian population does not exceed the count of fingers of hands. This concert took place on Saturday, February 10, 2024, in one of the churches in this town.

I was very surprised by this unexpected news. Immediately after hearing it, I informed one or two Iranian friends and acquaintances residing in this area, and we all believed that it was impossible for us not to participate     In a concert based on the story of Bijan and Manijeh by an Iranian composer to take place in this area.  During buying tickets, I was informed that a lecture session about this concert would be held one hour earlier than the main program, in which our Iranian composer, Farhad Poupel, would also be present along with the pianist, Jeffrey Beigel, and the symphony orchestra conductor, Joseph Caulkins.

Eagerly, we waited for a few days until the promised day arrived, and we were there at three o'clock in the afternoon. When we reached the entrance of the hall and saw the large crowd gathered there, my friend who was with me jokingly remarked in amazement, "We have come here for Bijan and Manijeh and the poet Ferdowsi!! I am wondering what had attracted so many other people to this place.”

When I heard Mr. Farhad Poupel talk about his work in music composition, the Shahnameh book, and recite a couplet from the story of Bijan and Manijeh, ("the cry rose from the wheel's curved bow"), I realized that in addition to music composition, his knowledge in Persian language, literature, and Shahnameh studies is not less than his expertise in music. 

The musical piece of the legend of Bijan and Manijeh is written for orchestra, piano, and choral music (group singing). It was mentioned in this lecture that the choral group sings verses of the Shahnameh in Persian, and Mr. Poupel mentioned that initially, he was suggested to translate the verses of the story of Bijan and Manijeh into English. However, after some discussons, Mr. Biegel suggests that it better be performed in the original language, Persian.

After the completion of the lecture and before the start of the program, there was about fifteen minutes interval that I took advantage of to go to our composer and have a brief conversation. From talking to him, I found out that he had left Iran about two years ago and is currently residing in England. I was curious about his family name, and when I asked him about it, he explained that "Poupel" is his grand father's surname. A French friend suggested to his grandfather to change their family name to "Poupel," which is a French word, and his grandfather accepted. From then on, their family name became "Poupel."

In the brochure that was handed out to the audience that day for the program, he was introduced as follows: "Farhad Poupel is born in Isfahan to Iranian parents. He has been interested in music from the beginning. At the age of 8, he started taking santur (dolcimer) classes and then moved on to learning piano. At that age, he was captivated by a piece by Beethoven (Piano Sonata No.16) and this piece created a lasting effect and interest in him that never faded. His father was a pharmacist and he himself went to pharmacy school and became a pharmacist, but his interest in music continued.

Following this interest in music, particularly in composing, when he heard about the arrival of Saeed Sharifian - a great Iranian composer residing in England - to Iran, he attended his classes held in Tehran and would travel from Isfahan to Tehran every week to benefit from his classes and receive private lessons from him, while his permanent job was managing a pharmacy in a hospital in Isfahan. After a year or two, he started composing music himself and sent his work to music enthusiasts and professionals in England, Canada, and America, receiving positive and favorable responses beyond his expectations, and started collaborating with them, gradually leaving his pharmacy job aside and focusing on music composition."

Farhad Poupel's works have gained a lot of enthusiasts on a global scale nowadays, and prestigious orchestras such as Windsor Symphony in Canada, a performer in Japan, and many European countries are interested in collaborating with him and playing his music. The concert that day was performed in two parts, with the main theme being titled "The Triumph of Love." The first part featured compositions by composers such as Jean Sibelius , Gustav Mahler , and a few lesser-known composers, all of which were themed around the triumph of love.

The second part of the program featured two pieces by Farhad Poupel. The first piece performed was titled "Memories of Childhood" (Persian Suite), which was arranged in three parts: 1- Miniature Overture 2- Lullaby in Memory of My Grandmother 3- Finale.

In the second part, the legend of Bijan and Manijeh was presented as an orchestral piece, a piano solo, and chorus singing an excerpt from Ferdowsi's Bijan and Manijeh - "A night like a moonlit night, washed with pitch / Neither Mars found nor Saturn nor Jupiter - came to an end."

By playing this music, it seemed that a new spirit was being infused into the audience present at the session. Farhad Poupel's piece Bijan and Manijeh was performed for the first time in the United States with pianist Jeffrey Biegel, who is known for his efforts to bridge gaps through music. These pieces created such enthusiasm and excitement in the audience that after the program concluded, they gave standing ovation and their applauses and cheers, brought the artists back on stage multiple times.

And I was pondering if about a thousand years ago when the sage Abu al-Qasim Ferdowsi was writing these poems, had it ever crossed his mind that a thousand years later, people who had never heard of him would listen attentively to his poems and keep his dear name on their tongues, even in another corner of the world that had not even been discovered yet!

Although he was aware of the greatness of his work at that time, otherwise he wouldn't have written: "I do not die and from now on I will be alive / For I have scattered the seeds of speech."


Mahvash Shahegh
February 15, 2024


Postscript: Following the concert and my admiration for his work, I looked up on Mr. Farhad Poupel's website and realized that most of his completed or ongoing works are influenced by Iranian culture, myths, and literature, which I will briefly mention below.

Completed works:
- "Zayandeh Rood" - composed in 2018 for string instruments
- "Childhood Memories" (Persian Suite, 2019)
- "The Legend of Bijan and Manijeh" (2020) for piano, choir, and orchestra
- "Kaveh the Blacksmith" (2022) for brass and percussion
- "Anahita, Mother of the Seas" (2023) for mezzo-soprano and orchestra
- "Zarathustra's Hymns" (2024)

Works in progress:
- "Quartet for the Beginning of Time" (Bondahishn) for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano
- "The Seven Labors of Rostam" for piano concert
- "Gordafarid's Laughter" for storytelling and piano

P.P.S: The original article is in Persian. This English translation of the original was done by ChatGPT and edited by my!

1- For more information about Farhad Poupel, you can visit his website www.farhadpoupel.com and listen to his other pieces listed on the site. Also, if you search for his name on YouTube, you will find Iranian suites and several interviews with him.

* Our city is Sarasota in the state of Florida.