Ridvan celebrates Baha’u’llah’s time in the garden of Ridvan where He publicly declared His station as a Manifestation of God. The Ridvan Festival is 12 days long and is also the time of year where Baha’is elect their governing bodies.
German pianist and composer, Peter Held, has produced a nuanced jazz album of devotional music dedicated to Baha’u’llah in the bicentennial year of His Birth. The album is called Fire and Light and it contains 18 acoustic and instrumental piano tracks with titles such as “Traces of the Beloved” and “Morning Hour”.
Fire and Light isn’t Peter’s first devotional album. He also released Creation, on which Corinne Bahia sings a selection of Baha’i Writings in accompaniment with Peter’s piano music.
We decided to get in touch with Peter to find out more about his music and what inspired Fire and Light:
Baha’i Blog: Hi Peter. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background?
I am a German composer and pianist, born in Hagen in 1957. I am indebted to my teachers, notably Professor Arnulf von Arnim and Roberto Szidon. You can see an overview of my works on my website peter-held.com, which includes descriptions to each of my works as well.
Baha’i Blog: So tell us a little bit about your album ‘Fire and Light’, and what was the main idea behind it?
The album Fire and Light is dedicated to the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. It consists of 18 compositions for piano. This is my first selection of pieces for piano, pieces that mean so much to me. Baha’u’llah once stated that He had been impressed by perusing a poem of a Baha’i, because He could feel in it the “Fire of Separation” and the “Light of Reunion”. The main piece of my album, called “Fire of Separation – Light of Reunion” is based on that dualistic concept. Other pieces describe my experiences at the Baha’i Holy Shrines and its gardens. Fire and Light is the first part of a series of albums with works for piano solo, and I am currently working on part two.
Baha’i Blog: What sort of effect do you hope the album will have on its listeners?
Hopefully, people will be inspired and feel uplifted by this album. I also hope that this music will be shared.
Baha’i Blog: What has the response been like so far, and will you be doing something similar for the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab?
The album Fire and Light was well received.
You have asked about an album dedicated to the Birth of the Bab. There is an album with the title 200. It was released in 2016. Several Tablets of Baha’u’llah related to the Birth of the Twin Manifestations of God are recited by Rudolf Schmidt, combined with piano improvisations. You can find this and other audio CDs on the German Baha’i Distribution Service here: www.bahai-verlag.de
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview Peter, and thank you for your beautiful Baha’i-inspired music!
Naysan is passionate about using the arts and media to explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. Back in 2011, Naysan started up the Baha’i Blog project, channeling his experiences in both media and technology companies to help create a hub for Baha’i-inspired content online.
Beautiful music, Peter! I especially love “Die Leiter Nr 11”, “Moment in Des” and “Ballad”. I love the peaceful effect as well as the jazzy mood. Thanks for sharing your creativity with us.
Lorraine Manifold (June 6, 2019 at 10:27 PM)
Thank you so much, Lorraine! If you like, you can find more pieces on my website: http://www.peter-held.com
Peter (June 6, 2019 at 7:34 AM)