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Likeness to Lily | Bazm-o-Razm


Project Description

Bazm-o-Razm logo by Justin WaldsteinA meditation on the timeless and troubled romance of love and war, Bazm-o-Razm is Likeness to Lily’s multi-media song-cycle for soprano, flute, violin, cello, bass, piano and drums, featuring original drawings by artist Justin Waldstein, Iraq War photos by Pulitzer Prize-nominee Alan Chin, and choreography by Sahar Javedani. Composer/vocalist Susan Oetgen was commissioned to write Bazm-o-Razm as part of her Composer Mentorship with Composer-in-Residence Randy Woolf at the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Bazm-o-Razm received its world premiere on the orchestra’s Music off the Walls series at the Brooklyn Museum in March 2008. “Bazm-o-razm” means “feasting and fighting” in Farsi. It refers to a tradition of Sufi epic poetry where love and battle are considered the twin inspirations of all heroic action. These poems were meant to be performed at intimate musical gatherings (bazm), customary in the society of medieval Persian nobility. The songs, images and gestures performed in Likeness to Lily’s Bazm-o-Razm recount the entangled stories of two pairs of star-crossed lovers: the fate of Layla and Majnun, the famous lovers of the Sufi romance Layla-o-Majnun, is transposed to a contemporary American couple, who, having newly discovered each other, lose each other once again to the exigencies of war.


  • Susan Oetgen composer, vocals & costumes
  • Tony Melone piano & laptop
  • Ian M. Riggs bass
  • Evan Pazner drums
  • Justin Waldstein art & projections
  • Alan Chin Iraq War photographs
  • Sahar Javedani choreography

Critical Acclaim

“Susan Oetgen brought a fresh approach to her orchestral composing during her residency with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Bazm-O-Razm for Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and Likeness to Lily was lyrical and poignant. It challenged our audience, both musically and emotionally.” – Greg Pierson, Interim Executive Director, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn, NY

“Likeness to Lily’s multi-media Bazm-O-Razm was a highlight of the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s chamber series at the Brooklyn Museum.” – Steven Lankenau, Director of Programming, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn, NY

“Bazm-o-Razm [for Likeness to Lily and cello, violin and flute]…blended the two worlds very effectively. The lyrics were truly outstanding, very moving and personal. The songs were daring and utterly convincing. The audience of 3-400 people responded with an enthusiastic standing ovation, which I was glad to be part of!” – Randy Woolf, Composer-in-Residence, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brooklyn, NY

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