Each song – some traditional folk ballads and some national calls to history and identity – became, in Aynur’s hands, an individual work of art, intricately structured and elegantly paced. Aynur combined subtle artistry with intimate, fresh connection to both her colleague musicians and her audience. Singing in Kurdish and seamlessly incorporating Western contemporary motifs, Aynur conveyed accounts of human events – hope and fear, joy and grief, wisdom, innocence, experiment and embrace – that were clear and compelling, even for audience members who couldn’t understand her words.
Aynur is more than a marvelous performer or fine musician. Her art transcends mere singing as a form of entertainment. She uses her voice as an instrument of the sacred. She chants, prays and summons: ghosts and visions, dreams and memories are all at her immediate command. She embodies womanliness as she flirts, seduces, soothes, embraces, coos, teases and celebrates; she stands in for people of every age and every gender-identity as she encourages and begs, commands, weeps, inspires, laughs, goads and mourns. She makes all human utterances, from whispers to wails, murmurs to shouts into music that is at once new and universal, individual to her and common to us all.
As the evening came to a close, Aynur chose songs whose lyrics and choruses the audience knew; men and women of all ages sang along with her. Even in a fixed, formal auditorium performance space, she successfully closed any distance between herself and the audience: she brought us all together in a shared experience of describing our own humanity.
Like many international artists bringing music of a particular culture, geography and history to a world audience, Aynur uses the uniqueness of what is hers – her language, her heritage – to illuminate and nourish spiritual universality.
Aynur, with special guest Kinan Azmeh (September 30, 2018)
World Music Institute in collaboration with The School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School
John L. Tishman Auditorium of The New School, 69 Fifth Avenue at 13th Street, in Manhattan
Running time: two hours without intermission