Talented Australian-Iranian musician Gelareh Pour is launching Garden Quartet, her band’s self-titled debut album, with a national tour beginning in July.
Gelareh formed Garden Quartet in 2016 in collaboration with Brian O’Dwyer, Arman Habibi and Mike Gallichio, creating and performing music which Gelareh describes as Iranian-Australian contemporary music fusing elements of world music, avant garde, alternative/indie post-rock, dark ambient and romantic, sung in Farsi.
Having studied in Iran and then obtained her Masters of Ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne, she is a respected composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist master of Persian/Iranian instruments including Kamancheh (spiked fiddle) and Qeychak Alto (Iranian bowed lute). She has previously released three albums to widespread acclaim, and is a contributing member of Boite World Music Café and Victoria’s Iranian House of Music. Gelareh is now based in Melbourne where she regularly performs with some of Australia’s most innovative experimental musicians.
The theme of the album Garden Quartet is “more than one place”, drawing on Gelareh’s experiences and stories about living and creating music in two very different cultures, together with her bandmates’ differing cultural backgrounds and the stories they’ve carried along their personal journeys.
Gelareh also incorporates the stories of women who have had to flee from war-torn countries inspired by Gelareh’s academic research work on The Lives of Iranian Women Singers in Diaspora.
Celebrated as a vocalist of rare and ethereal skill, the 34-year-old has nonetheless experienced hardship as a female singer in Iran. There, she was only able to perform covertly in underground venues, as women are forbidden to sing solo in public under Islamic law. Women’s voices are viewed as “too provocative” and their hand movements when playing instruments deemed “too erotic”. As a result, Iranian women can only play instruments in male-led bands, or perform to all-female audiences, who must also obtain permits for all performances via an arduous bureaucratic process. By contrast, singing as a woman solo singer with no restrictions on the stage and in recordings is very special to her. In Australia, for the first time in her life, Gelareh feels she has true musical and creative freedom—a feeling of exhilaration that is beautifully expressed in the compositions on Garden Quartet.
Garden Quartet will perform in Adelaide, Melbourne, Ballarat, Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart.
Media release written by Diana Wolfe and Gianna Huesch