Media only: Ellie Reynolds, 202.633.0521; Elizabeth Bridgforth, 202.633.0521
Public only: 202.633.1000

September 11, 2007
In celebration of the 800th anniversary of the poet Rumi’s birth, the United Nations has declared 2007 “International Rumi Year;” the University of Maryland will host a three-day conference in September; and the Academy Award (Oscar) ceremonies will feature a segment honoring him. The most anticipated event, however, is a full day of music, food and poetry happening Saturday, Oct. 27, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art.

The Freer presents “Rumi at 800: A Sufi Celebration,” a celebration of the birth of poet and mystic Mevlana Jalal-ad-Din Rumi born in 1207. Rumi inspired the founding of the Whirling Dervishes and remains one of the world’s best-selling authors in any language. The event is made possible with support from Koç Holding. Following is a list of the day’s events:

Arts of the Islamic World
11:15 a.m., Meet at Freer info desk

See how a variety of artistic traditions have thrived since the advent of Islam in the late seventh century. Explore the Freer’s collection of arts of the Islamic world, which were created across a vast geographic area, from southern Spain and North Africa to the islands of Southeast Asia.

Rumi’s Mystical Journey: Poetry in Song *
12 p.m., Meyer Auditorium

Experience the mystical mood of a traditional Sufi assembly with Kazem Davoudian, the Iranian-born composer and virtuoso on the Persian santur (hammered dulcimer). He has appeared as solo performer and conductor at Wolftrap, the George Washington Masonic Temple, and the Kennedy Center. He is joined by the Afghan-born vocalist and harmonium virtuoso, Humayun Khan, a disciple of the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan, blending north Indian ragas with Persian Sufi ghazals; vocalist Lida Saeedian, who has performed throughout the United States; and percussionist Behfar Bahadoran.

Poetry Reading
Young Voices/New Poems
1:30-3:30 p.m. Freer 

Young writers from the Washington area share poems written during a summer residency at the museum under the guidance of poet and teacher Lisa Pegram. Through poetry they explore the many relationships they see between the literary and visual arts, and perform next to the artworks that inspired their writing. Poets are Kiimara Baker, Kaylah Miranda, Lynda Nguyen, Bianca Martinez, Lily Reeder, Ramona Santana, Thandiwe Hunter, and Catherine Frost.

Persian National Music Ensemble*
3:30 p.m., Meyer Auditorium

This five-member ensemble from Baltimore recently performed with Rumi translator Coleman Barks at the American Visionary Art Museum. They will recite Rumi’s poetry in English, tell famous stories about the mystic-poet, and then perform his poems in Persian, accompanied by santur (hammered dulcimer), tar (lute), violin, and percussion. Director and composer Ahman Borhani taught music at Ferdowsi University in Iran and is a specialist in the life and poetry of Rumi.

Reciting Rumi in the Galleries
3:30-5 p.m., Freer Courtyard 

(Rain location: Freer galleries 3 and 4) Children ages six to fourteen and their adult companions use an activity book to explore the relationship between poetry and painting in the Freer’s Arts of the Islamic World galleries and recite Rumi in the galleries. Afterwards they write their own poems on illuminated pages to share with other participants.

Poetry Reading *
Jane Hirshfield
7:30 p.m., Meyer Auditorium

In this finale to our daylong Rumi celebration, Jane Hirshfield reads from Rumi’s work as well as her own poetry. HirshfieldÕs poetry has appeared in such publications as the The New Yorker, The Times Literary Supplement as well as in two of Bill Moyers PBS television specials. In fall 2004 The Academy of American Poets awarded Hirshfield the 70th Academy Fellowship for her distinguished poetic achievement, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop. Don’t miss one of today’s leading poets as she shares her deep appreciation of Rumi’s spirit and legacy.

*Free tickets are required for performances. Two tickets per person are distributed at the Meyer Auditorium one hour before the event on a first-come, first-served basis. Up to four tickets per person can also be reserved through Ticketmaster beginning at 10 a.m. two Mondays before the event.

The Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Ave. S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Freer houses a major collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century American art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, except Dec. 25, and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public may call (202) 633-1000 or TTY (202) 357-1729, or visit the exhibitions section of the galleries’ website:

spacer gif