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© françois houle 2014 – all rights reserved


Safa (Farsi): inner purity, sincerity, sincere affection

Amir Koushkani (persian tar and voice), François Houle (clarinets) and Sal Ferreras (percussion) are Safa. Three players brought together by good fortune and a deep love for music and the art of improvisation.

Safa was born when Amir Koushkani appeared at the door of uber-percussionist Salvador Ferreras. It was ostensibly an audition for a spot in the music program at Vancouver Community College, but after hearing just a few notes of Amir’s Persian lute, Sal rushed over to a neighbouring office to get clarinettist Francois Houle. Sal wasn’t looking for a second opinion. He wanted to jam! Major musical chemistry ensued and Safa started to build a reputation as one of Canada’s premier global music ensembles.  While the Safa’s music continues to be informed and inspired by Amir’s classical Persian traditions, the group brings the prodigious talent and diverse musical experience of its other two members to its stellar mix of composed and improvised performance.

Safa has performed throughout Canada and parts of the US over the last 8 years. They have appeared in Major festivals, such as Festival Vancouver, Cool Drumming (Toronto), Sound Symposium (St.Johns, Newfoundland), Open Ears (Kitchener), and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Recent performances include features at the ClarinetFest09 in Kansas City. An original concerto by Amir Koushkani for SAFA was performed with the CBC Radio Orchestra, under the direction of Alain Trudel, and broadcast nationally in the fall of 2006. Their performances have attracted critical acclaim from critics and public alike. Their concert at Montreal’s Maison de la Culture Maisonneuve in 2005 was nominated for a “Prix Opus” for best world music performance. Their music is frequently heard on CBC radio 2, and Radio-Canada. The trio has released one critically-acclaimed CD “Alight” and is currently working on a new recording for the 2011-12 season.

Inspired by the profound passion of an ancient Persian repertoire, drawn into the realm of memory, evocation and delight, these three individuals bring to this project contemporary improvisations and neo-traditional settings that unfold in rhythmic play and timbral contrasts. Their work is at times playful, at times humorous, and at other times imbued with an intense rapture that delivers us into another world from which to view the beauty of our own gift of life.

Salvador Ferreras






Amir Koushkani






François Houle



1. Chahar Mezrab

2. Sufinameh

3. Navae

4. Shadi

5. Whisper Of Love

6. Ninavae

7. Drunk

8. Nihawend Lunga

9. Aurora

10. Saghinameh

11. Epilogue





Posted in Press by Francois Houle on February 21st, 2011 at 9:41 PM.

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