Ladom Ensemble brings international touch

The Ladom Ensemble is a truly international group, with musicians from Iran and Canada recording music from around the world. Prairie Debut presents the Ladom Ensemble as part of the Yorkton Arts Council’s Stars for Saskatchewan Series on Feb. 1 at the Anne Portnuff Theatre.
The ensemble, which consists of Pouya Hamidi, co-founder, composer, and pianist, Beth Silver, cello, Michael Bridge, accordion and Adam Campbell, hand percussion, has been having a busy month. After five years of hard work, they released their latest album, “The Walls Are Made of Song”, and immediately set off on a western tour.
The show will feature a wide variety of music, because the quartet is inspired by a wide range of music. Ranging from music classical to modern rock, and music sourced from around the world, the band plays a wide range of sounds. The concert isn’t just the group hitting the stage to play the songs either, Hamidi said, with the group talking about the music they’re playing.
“We go through different genres of music. We have some classical covers, by Prokofiev, by Bach, by Chopin, and also recently we did a cover by the British band Radiohead, so that has been very fun to put that in our instrumentation. But also, there is a lot of music from different parts of the world. We do music from Iran, where I am from, some Balkan music, we do some tango. So it’s all kinds of different styles, but what ties it all together is the ensemble and the instrumentations.”
The ensemble makes the wide range of music makes sense together, Hamidi says, because they all have their distinct style and their own way of playing. The arrangements, largely handled by Hamidi, also tie the work together.
Doing a wide range of music feels natural to Hamidi, and the group, because they’re inspried by a wide range of music themselves. When he began playing, at eight years old in Iran, he was mostly focused on classical composers, he said, but as he grew up he was exposed to more and more music, whether it was contemporary classical, jazz, rock or world music, and those all informed his style.
“I like to say that the ensemble doesn’t pretend to resemble a traditional style. It’s just a combination of things we all like. We play it and simply call it music, we don’t put it in a box. We hope that the audiences feel the same as we do.”
Hamidi also composes his own music, and he says that when he’s composing he’s ‘like a sponge.’
“I hear things, I absorb music that I really like, and I filter out the music that I don’t like... That goes into my unconscious and when I compose and when I sit down at the piano and play something, it just flows out of that unconscious memory. I don’t know where it comes from... It all combines and becomes my own musical language.”
Sometimes he admits that what he sits down to compose and what results are a bit different, as the title track of the album, “The Walls are Made of Song,” was originally intended to be three minutes long instead of the final length of over ten.
“I didn’t want it to be that long but it just wanted to grow itself.”
The album has been in the works for a while, and Hamidi said that recording it was a work of intense planning, with the group getting the material, getting funding in place and getting the right team together to record it.
“Another part of my job is that I’m a sound engineer, so if the sound isn’t right in the studio I can’t focus at all.”
He’s happy with the result, produced by Peter Cook, with Andrew Mullin as the sound engineer, and he’s glad they went with them to record the work. While it took a lot of work, it went smoothly, because the group plays well together and worked well with the team on the other side of the mic.
“It’s like going up a mountain, there’s a lot of different moving parts, but once it’s done it’s a great feeling.”
This will be the first time the ensemble is touring Saskatchewan, and while one of the band members, Michael Bridge, is originally from Regina, Hamidi himself has not been to the province before beyond being in Regina very briefly. He’s excited about taking the chance to get across the province and visit places he’s never been before and meet new audiences.
“One of my favourite things on tour is to meet the people in the towns we visit, and check out the scenery. There’s always something interesting in every town that we want to see.”

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