Sufi Music Creates Hypnotic Whirl At World Music Festival

16th Small World Music Fest Brings Tehran’s Soley Vaseghi To New Audience

Toronto was treated to a rare night of mystical Persian Qawwali-style Sufi music, poetry and whirling dervishes as part of the 16th Small World Music Festival. Popular Tehran-born singer and musician, Soleyman Vaseghi, delighted the audience at the atmospheric St. Andrew’s Church with a magical and hypnotic evening of deeply soulful music by the Soley Ensemble. The night’s program was a seamless blend of Sufi music and singing, some incredible instrumental solos, and the recital of classic poetry by Rumi and Hafez. The real surprise were the two whirling dervishes who shared a sacred and devotional act as part of the music performance.

As part of Small World Music Festival, Soley Ensemble performance at St. Andrew’s Church. Hypnotic whirling by dervish, Tanya Evanson and Farzad Ajay Attar-j.

This show is part of a music and poetry series, presented in association with Rumi Canada; appropriately named Inner Journey. Performer Soley Vaseghi was born in Tehran in 1949, and for many decades has been sharing with the world his love of Persian poetry and Sufi music and culture. He currently lives in Toronto.

Popular singer and musician, Soleyman Vaseghi at 16th Small World Music Festival.
Popular singer and musician, Soleyman Vaseghi at 16th Small World Music Festival.

Vaseghi had a tremendous team of talented musicians supporting him on Inner Journey 1, including: Kourosh Babaei on Kamancheh; Ali Razmi on Setar; Sardar Mohamadjani on Oud, Bamdad Fotouhi, Tombak & Percussion; and Zohreh Shahbazy on Daf. Kundralini Sorig recited classic Persian poetry at the event in English. During the music performance, Tanya Evanson and Farzad Ajay Attar-j conducted several sacred Sufi displays of whirling movement. All the musicians and the two dervish currently reside in Canada.

If you ever have the opportunity to experience a live Persian Sufi music, poetry and dervish event, it will be helpful to know about the following:

The Soley Ensemble’s mystical music performance at Toronto’s atmospheric St. Andrew’s Church.
The Soley Ensemble’s mystical music performance at Toronto’s atmospheric St. Andrew’s Church.

What is a whirling DERVISH?

Whirling dervishes are not dancers. A dervish is someone, an initiate, on the Sufi path. Whirling is usually part of a formal spiritual ceremony; the whirling is considered a scared and devotional act. It represents a mystical journey and a turning towards truth. Both men and women can be dervish. It was wonderful to see female dervish, Tanya Evanson, included in this performance.


Who is RUMI?

Rumi is a beloved and highly respected 13th-century Persian poet and philospher, most well known for his love poems. Here is a bit of line from a poem called Lovers:


O lovers, lovers it is time

to set out from the world.

I hear a drum in my soul’s ear

coming from the depths of the stars.

– RUMI –




Soley Ensemble: Inner Journey 1 took place Saturday, September 16, 2017 at St. Andrew’s Church, 73 Simcoe Street, Toronto. Inner Journey 1 is part of Rumi Canada’s sacred music series sung and recited in both Persian and English.


About Small World Music Festival

Toronto’s annual Small World Music Festival returned for summer 2017 with a focused 4 days of Canadian debuts, including the launch of a new series, Polyphonic Ground Presents, and free outdoor programming at Trillium Park. Small World was delighted to present a captivating range of experiences that collectively represent ‘The Beat of the Globe in the Heart of Toronto!’ World class artists from Korea and Malta, as well as Canadian performers of the diaspora, presented at four of the city’s top live music venues: Revival, Small World Music Centre, the Rivoli and St. Andrew’s Church. To learn more please visit:


Event in association with Rumi Canada as part of the 16th Annual Small World Music Festival. For upcoming Rumi Canada events please visit the Facebook page:

Next event listed is Inner Journey III: M. Rumi’s Birthday, as part of Nuit Blanche, at the Aga Khan Museum on September 30, 2017.



About Sonja Andic 64 Articles
Covers lifestyle, art, culture, entertainment, music, travel and city events for Toronto Guardian. A strategic communicator, popularity creator and social connector with a diverse portfolio of accomplishments.