From Roots to Wings

September 29, 2009

The World Zarathushti Symphony Orchestra: Harmony for the generations

Filed under: Fezana, Fall 2009,Uncategorized — jimengineer @ 6:01 pm
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by Farobag Homi Cooper

farobag_cooperThe  World Zarathushti Symphony Orchestra (WZSO), founded by Farobag Homi Cooper and Cyrus Mehta, made its début at the 2000 World Congress in Houston. Featuring a unique mixture of young and seasoned professionals, the WZSO is now a regular highlight at Congresses.

The World Zarathushti Symphony Orchestra’s performances at FEZANA and World Congresses are always proclaimed as highlights. Although we are pleased, I believe its entertainment value – much desired and appreciated – is a by-product.

More than simply an ensemble of Zarathushtis, the WZSO’s aims are somewhat loftier. It strives to enhance the cultural atmosphere during Congresses; but also serves as a conduit for amateurs and aspiring professionals to gain unique experiences and perceptions that develop only through performing with a professional orchestra. After all, where else can our Zarathushti musicians have the opportunity to sit side-by-side with members of the Houston Symphony, Chicago Philharmonia or Toronto Philharmonic?

For more advanced participants, another advantage is the possibility to perform as a concerto soloist.  Few young musicians of any religious affiliation have the privilege to be accompanied by a professional symphony orchestra. The WZSO is not only a showcase for introducing talented Zarathushti musicians to the community, but is now also a springboard for gaining the added confidence requisite for success.

Indeed, I am particularly delighted and proud to hear that Mahfrin Santoke, who performed with the WZSO at the World Congress in Houston at the tender age of 13, is now completing her B.M. requirements for a double major in flute performance and music education. Other Zarathushti soloists with the WZSO who have emerged within the music profession include Jamshed Turel, Dinyar Vania, Sorab Wadia and composer Parizad Irani.

Although it is gratifying, the WZSO does not set its sights on producing professional musicians. Yet the orchestra certainly embraces the ideals that contribute towards excellence – and not just success – which can be ever so fleeting. Music – alongside medicine, law, and theology – is one of the cornerstones of the Western intellectual tradition. Exposure to music builds strength, discipline, perseverance, and ultimately creativity, which is the hallmark of excellence. These attributes are the building blocks of character. It is our character, individually and collectively, which will help define our heritage towards its rightful place in society.

As an ardent supporter of the performing arts, I cannot belabor the need to establish similar ventures in literary and creative arts as well. We need to lobby constructively for all Zarathushti artists to gain wider acknowledgment and support through FEZANA, WZCC and other Zarathushti cultural institutions, associations and publications; and to foster collaboration amongst ourselves. Ultimately, the choice will rest with these organizations: either to be emboldened and forge ahead, paving a path for future generations of Zarathushtis via exemplification; or to be content with our glorious past and merely create room for nostalgia.

Farobag Homi Cooper is music director of the Chicago Philharmonia, the Chicago Performing Artists Series and the WZSO. An educator, motivational speaker and a Reiki master, he believes in creating abundance from the inside out, and has given his heart and soul to assist FEZANA and other Zarathushti causes.

World Zarathushti Symphony Orchestra members since inception:

Artin Aidun, USA

Bahman Arian, Canada

Darius Bagli, Canada

Nousheen Bastani, Canada

Sharon Batlivalla, Canada

Kobad Bhavnagri, Australia

Simonil Bhavnagri, Australia

Tina Cavyan, USA

Piroozi Cooper, USA

Ayesha Dastur, USA

Zeena Dotiwalla, Canada

Arshish Dua, USA

Ayesha Dua, USA

Pratik Gandhi, Canada

Liley Gheewalla, USA

Roxana Godiwalla, USA

Tinaz Godiwalla, USA

Tara Jamshidian, USA

Navaz Jasavala, USA

Fareesh Kanga, USA

Hormuzd Kanga, USA

Roshni Kapadia, USA

Susan Karani, USA

Firdosh Khambatta, USA

Dilshad Khambatta, USA

Zubin Khambatta, USA

Yazad Lala, USA

Armaity May, USA

Adil Mehta, USA

Cyrus Mehta, USA

Freddy Mirza, Canada

Anita Parakh, Australia

Deena Patel, USA

Dilshad Patel, USA

Meher Pavri, Canada

Anita Rao, USA

Hanoz Santoke, USA

Mahfrin Santoke, USA

Amy Suratia, United Kingdom

Phiroze Titina, USA

Jamshed Turel, USA

Dinyar Vania, USA

Sorab Wadia, USA

Darius Weil, USA

Delna Weil, USA

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