Fariborz Azizi was born in Tehran (Iran) in 1961. He has performed on tar and setar for more than 30 years. Before devoting himself to classical Persian music, he obtained a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Tehran University.
He first became attracted to music during his teenage years listening to the radio show Golchin Hafteh. He was heavily influenced by Chavosh musical masters including Hossein Alizadeh, who has been his master for more than 10 years.
Since 2006, he lives in Los Angeles where he teaches tar and setar classes, holds lectures, performs concerts and composes traditional and contemporary Persian music.
Vocalist Hamid Reza Nourbakhsh was born in 1964, studied under the supervision of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a living legend in Iranian classical music. He has performed with various renowned artists and groups, including the Shams Ensemble, the Aref Ensemble, the Ukraine Philharmonic Orchestra, and the great santur maestro Faramarz Payvar.
He performed with Kayhan Kalhor at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, and is currently the director of Iran’s House of Music. He made his New York debut at Zankel Hall at Carnegie in the fall of 2008.
Hamid Reza Taqavi, born in 1976 in Iranian Azerbaijan, began playing santur at the age of 11 under the direction of Ibrahim Safari and continued his studies with Master Parviz Meshkatian and renowned santur player Ardavan Kamkar. In addition to Persian traditional music, he is also versed in modern music techniques. He joined the Shams Ensemble in 2001.
Vocalist Alireza Ghorbani, born in 1972, began studying the Persian classical repertoire (radif) at the age of 12 with such masters as Mehdi Fallah, Hossein Omoumi and Ahmad Ebrahimi. His later work with Ali Tajvidi and Farhad Fakhre’ddini opened new horizons as he experimented with art songs (tasnif) from radio broadcasts of the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1999, he joined Farhad Fakhre’ddini’s National Iranian Orchestra as lead vocalist, performing in Iran and abroad. His warm, resonant voice and songs that speak to the spirit of the times in Iran have made him particularly popular. He has made many recordings and collaborated with Majid Derakhshani, Sadeq Cheraghi, Pezhman Taheri, Houshang Kamkar, the National Iranian Orchestra, and the Shams Ensemble.
On Rapture, Alireza Ghorbani collaborates with Tunisian singer Dorsaf Hamdani for the first time. It presents a dialog between the Arabic and Persian cultures.
Sahba Motallebi is recognized internationally as a modern expert of the Iranian tar and setar, lute-type stringed instruments that are essential to one of the world’s great musical traditions. Sahba started studying music as a young girl in Sari, a small coastal city in the north of Iran.
In 1993, at the age of 14, she initiated her studies at the Tehran Conservatory of Music, where she was recognized as Best Tar Player at the Iranian Music Festival for four consecutive years.
After graduating in 1997, Sahba Motallebi helped found the pioneering women’s music ensemble Chakaveh. In 1999, Motallebi was invited to join the Iranian National Orchestra.
In 2003, Motallebi left Iran to pursue graduate studies in music in Russia, Turkey, and the United States and has lived near Los Angeles for the past years. She continues to perform worldwide, and has released several CDs and published two books on Iranian classical music.
Sahba Motallebi is also much-admired as an innovator in music education, with her online instructional materials and courses reaching students throughout the world.
Presentation of Young Artists (2003)
Solace of the eyes (2006),
Ever lasting songs of Iran Vol. I & II (2001)
Ancient Heritage anew (2011)
Dream and Illusion (2012)
A Tear at the Crossroad of Time (2014)
Okay, I am going to lapse into my inner icky fangirl for a moment or two. One of my favorite record labels, the Oslo, Norway based Kirkelig Kulturverksted and one of my favorite producers, Kirkelig Kulturverksted’s very own Erik Hillestad have put out The Sun Will Rise with the stunning Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat.
For anyone who has read some of my reviews I have a longstanding devotion to female Iranian singers like Ms. Vahdat, her sister Marjan Vahdat, Azam Ali, Parisa and Mamak Khadem.
With a voice that is as rich as it is expressive, Mahsa Vahdat is the certainly the gold standard for Iranian vocalists and so it comes as no surprise that Ms. Vahdat would craft and entirely a cappella recording. What is the real surprise of The Sun Will Rise are the extraordinary lengths Ms. Vahdat, Mr. Hillestad and crew took to dazzle listeners.
Delving into a wealth of poetry from likes of Forough Farrokhzad, Rumi, Saadi, Mohammad Ebrahim Jafari, Aref Ghazvini and others, Ms. Vahdat takes her hauntingly graceful vocals on the road to record a cappella in venues like the barrel-vaulted mausoleum of painter Emanuel Vigeland at The Emanuel Vigeland Museum in Oslo, Norway; the Eglise Saint-Claude in Provence, France; the Iglesia de Santa Maria in Requena, Spain; and the Palacios Nazaries in La Alhambra in Granada, Spain; as well as venues in Poland and Turkey. Restricted from performing publicly in Iran, Ms. Vahdat chose to seek out those ancient places where her vocals would rise up ancient walls, age worn bricks and history steeped ceilings. The effect is glorious.
With snippets of the captured sounds of passing birds, water trickling through fountains and the occasional bell, The Sun Will Rise is quite simply strikingly lovely. Ms. Vahdat’s achingly poignant vocals echo throughout The Emanuel Vigeland Museum on opening title track “The Sun Rises” so that the listener can’t help but be enchanted.
Moving through such tracks as “My Eyes Brim with the Sea” with lyrics taken the 14th century poet Iranian Hafez at the Eglise Saint-Claude in Provence to “Show Your Face” with poetry from the 13th century Persian poet Rumi and sung in the Iglesia de Santa Maria in Spain to “The Pair of Your Hair” with poetry from the 11th century Persian poet Baba Taher and recorded in the Crimea Memorial Church in Istanbul, Turkey, The Sun Will Rise is enchanting.
Completely devoid of gimmicks or artifice, Ms. Vahdat’s vocals implore, revere and appeal to the greater grace on each of the 21 tracks of The Sun Will Rise.
Listeners are treated to everything from the wideness of cathedral spaces to the most intimate of spaces with equal measures of clarity of sound and the impassioned splendor of Ms. Vahdat’s vocals.
Stunningly spare, Mahsa Vahdat never sounded so richly worked as in this recording.
Hossein Alizadeh, a master of the tar and setar lutes, and Pejman Hadadi one of the most innovative Iranian percussionists are set to perform on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. at Roulette in New York.
Alizadeh, deemed one of the most important figures in contemporary Persian music, has had a successful solo career, performing both in Iran and throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He was the conductor and soloist in the Iranian National Orchestra of Radio and Television, established the acclaimed Aref Ensemble, and worked with the Shayda Ensemble.