Mystics & Lovers

In May 2015, the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and Laudate Singers celebrated more than a decade of artistic partnership with a concert of choral intercultural music titled MYSTICS & LOVERS. The next day, those same 50+ musicians gathered again to record two of the featured works on the programme, Ani Ma-amin (I Believe) by Moshe Denburg and Asheghaneh by Farshid Samandari. We are so excited to share the result with you at last!

Mystics & Lovers, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and Laudate Singers CD Cover Art
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About the Album

Mystics & Lovers, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra and Laudate Singers CD Cover ArtMystics & Lovers features two major works by Canadian composers, both of which were first commissioned and premiered by the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO) and Laudate Singers several years ago: Ani Ma-amin (2002) by Moshe Denburg and Asheghaneh (2006) by Farshid Samandari.

Ani Ma-amin and Asheghaneh share central themes: both draw on the poetic best of many cultures to build bridges between them. Both strive for unity in diversity, expressing a longing for peace and understanding, and seeking connection between personal love and spiritual devotion. Both are major works that use the human voice and instruments from many countries (including traditional instruments from China, Vietnam, Iran and India as well as Western European/North American strings and winds) to highlight both the commonality and contrasting expressions of these deeply human sentiments, communicated through centuries-old texts (by a 12th century Rabbi/philosopher in Ani Ma-amin and an 11th-c. Persian poet/philosopher in Asheghaneh) that still resonate with us today.

Through this recording, we are excited to bring these two important and innovative works to our loyal audiences as well as new listeners across Canada and throughout the world. We feel that it is an important part of our mandate to give the new Canadian works we commission a life beyond their performance in concert; to increase the profile of this music in Canada and beyond. We extend heartfelt thanks to everyone involved – orchestra members, singers, production team, administrators, funders, partners, and volunteers – for their support of Mystics & Lovers.

The Performers


Lars Kaario – Artistic Director

Heidi Ackermann
Marina Bennett
Yasmine Bia
Catherine Crouch
Elyse Kantonen
Jennifer Katchur
Tiffany Oakes
Jenny Vermeulen

Tami Copland
Hilary Crowther
Miriam Davidson
Elspeth Finlay
Mavis Friesen
Katie Horst
Peggy Hua

Marquis Byrd
Marco Del Rio
Lyle Isbister
Justin Pham
Chris Robinson
Nicholas Sommer

Douglas Lau
George Roberts
Chris Sivak
Adam Turpin
Joseph Young


Mark Armanini – Artistic Director
Jamal Kurdistani – Tenor soloist

Domagoj Ivanovic – Violin 1
Angela Malmberg – Violin 1
Susan Cosco – Violin 1
Mark Ferris – Violin 2
Zuzana Uskovitsova – Violin 2
Manti Poon – Viola
Marcus Takizawa – Viola
Sue Round – Cello
Finn Manniche – Cello
Tim Stacey – Double Bass
Joy Yeh – Orchestral Harp

Mark McGregor – Flute
Geronimo Mendoza – Oboe
Milan Milosevic – Clarinet
Johanna Hauser – Bass Clarinet
Alexander Cannon – Trumpet

Adrian Verdejo – Guitar
Jun Rong – Gaohu/Erhu 1
Lan Tung – Erhu 2
Charlie Lui – Dizi
Bic Hoang – Danbau
Saina Khaledi – Santur
Alborz Rahmani – Tar 1
Ali Razmi – Tar 2
Navid Goldrick – Oud

Jonathan Bernard – Vibraphone/Percussion
Phil Belanger – Percussion 2/Hand Percussion
Niel Golden – Tabla/Percussion

VANCOUVER INTER-CULTURAL ORCHESTRA, founded in 2001, was one of the first concert orchestras devoted specifically to performing new intercultural music on a grand scale. It is currently the only professional ensemble of its kind in Canada, and one of a only a handful that exist in the world. The VICO brings together musicians and composers from many cultural and artistic communities in the Greater Vancouver area, including Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Indian, Persian (Iranian), Latin and South American, Vietnamese, African, North American and European. Visit

JAMAL KURDISTANI (tenor soloist) was born in 1961 in Sanandaj, an Iranian of Kurdish descent. He has studied radif (Persian vocal music) with Ostad Ahmad Helli, Ostad Sediq Taarif and Ostad Mohsen Keramati. Jamal has performed with Dastan, Kereshmeh and Hamnavazan Ensembles, as well as in the Vancouver area with Saeed Farajpoori and Hossein Behroozinia. He has also appeared at the Safar Festival, and at the Indian Summer Festival with Coleman Barks; this was the first major Canadian exhibition by contemporary artists from the Middle Eastern region. Also an educator, Jamal has taught singing and voice pedagogy in Iran and Canada for more than 20 years.

The Composers

MOSHE DENBURG grew up in Montreal, in a religious Jewish family. His musical career has spanned four decades and several continents: he has lived and studied music in Canada, the USA, Israel, India, and Japan. Since 1987 his compositions have reflected an ongoing commitment to the principle of intercultural music-making: bringing together the instruments and ideas of many cultures. He founded the VICO, a vehicle for the realization of his and other Canadian composers’ intercultural work, in 2001.

Known for music that deftly explores the cultural interconnections between Western Classical post-modernism and his Persian heritage, FARSHID SAMANDARI emigrated from Iran to Canada in 2001. Samandari’s mantra is “Unity through Diversity” — to this end his music synthesizes a broad spectrum of non-western sources to create a vocabulary that is entirely his own. His music has been performed extensively throughout Canada, Europe, and Asia.


Toronto Music Report, Raul da Gama
Jewish Independent, Cynthia Ramsay
Midwest Record, Chris Spector

Production Credits

Mystics & Lovers was recorded on May 8-9, 2015
at BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts
Capilano University, North Vancouver, BC
Released September 25, 2016 on Chroma Disc

Producer: Mark Armanini
Recording Engineer: Don Harder
Album Artwork: John Endo Greenaway
Photography: Robin Wong, Allison White
Mastering & Manufacture: Precision Disc

For Laudate Singers:

Lars Kaario – Artistic Director
C.D. Saint – Manager

For the VICO:

Mark Armanini – Artistic Director
Farshid Samandari – Composer-in-Residence
Moshe Denburg – Composer & Artistic Advisor
Melanie Thompson – Administrator & Communications Manager
Allison White – Operations Coordinator
Don Xaliman – Audio-Visual Recordist

© 2015 Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra & Laudate Singers