• Clarinet, Violin, 'Cello, Piano
  • Duration: 9 min.



Haziri, literally "presence," is the name of a type of spirit possession practiced at Muslim saint shrines in India. My first experience with it was in the summer of 2003, when I was invited by anthropologist Carla Bellamy to a Shi'a family imambara in the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Mumbai. At the imambara, a woman was engaged in khuli haziri ("open haziri") and was flailing around the courtyard, hair flying, running at full speed into the walls, and finally collapsing open-mouthed on the ground. Her actions were rhythmic and the rhythm was kept through a violent pattern of inhalation and exhalation. The harsh physicality of this process was stunning and remains a vivid memory to this day. My work, Haziri, draws on my memory of this experience as well as Bellamy's recordings of the process made in 2005.

In many of my recent compositions, I have tried to take my experiences and convey them musically in my own compositional language. In this way, I seek to put the performers into a situation whereby they are not recreating my experience, nor providing an aural snapshot of the experience, but instead musically enacting it. In Haziri, this is done sonically by basing the musical material on my analysis of the sonic characteristics of the recordings and narratively by basing the narrative of the piece on the narrative structure of the process of spirit possession. In performance, the players are put in the place of the person with haziri, enduring a difficult physicality and through the process of physical trial, regaining their autonomy.

"energetic...very loud, busy and dense throughout."
          - Joshua Chan, 2006 ISCM report


ISCM World New Music Festival, Stuttgart, Germany
Juy 22, 2006
Ensemble Moderne Akademie
Rafael Caldentey, clarinet
Anna-Kathrin Faber, violin
Wolfgang Zamastil, cello
Marc Trischler, piano

Manuel Nawri, conductor

Rose Studio, Lincoln Center, New York
December 3, 2006
CC Ensemble
Carol McGonnell, clarinet
Jennifer Curtis, violin
Claire Bryant, cello
David Hanlon, piano

Carl Christian Bettendorf, conductor

June in Buffalo Festival
Lippes Concert Hall, Buffalo
June 1, 2009
New York New Music Ensemble
Jean Kopperud, clarinet
Linda Quan, violin
Chris Finckel, cello
Stephen Gosling, piano

James Baker, conductor

Home Hear Music Information
Contact Todd