Zohreh Jooya, raised in the holy city of Mashad in Iran, received a classical music education at the Academy of Music, Vienna and then earned a masters degree in opera at the Conservatory of the City of Vienna. She currently pursues a singing career in both Oriental and European cultures with opera performances throughout Austria, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland.
Sima Bina was born in Khorasan, in northeastern Iran, an ancient cultural crossroads where Afghan, Persian, Turkish and Kurdish customs and music have co-existed for centuries. In the heart of this multi-faceted folk tradition, Sima Bina started her career on Iranian radio at the age of nine, under the direction of her father, Ahmad Bina – a master of Iranian classical music and poet. After graduating from Tehran University in 1969, Sima Bina continued and perfected her knowledge of classical Persian radif, under renowned master teacher Davami.
Since 1979, alongside her classical studies, Sima Bina has focused on extensive research on Persian folk songs, collecting, recording, writing and re-interpreting popular regional music. By traveling to remote places throughout Khorasan, Sima has been able to gather and revive a collection of almost forgotten songs and melodies. Rejecting the notion that a professional vocalist must leave popular music to folk singers, while devoting their career to ‘serious’ music, she has gained a unique position in the history of Persian music.
Since 1993, Sima Bina has been invited to present her folkloric repertoire in festivals all over the world.
Peyman Yazdanian is an Iranian pianist and composer who combines eastern instruments like ud, duduk, daf, dohol, tar, etc., with western and orchestral instruments.
Born in Tehran (1969), he started learning the Piano at the age of 6 and continued his advance level studies under the supervision of Farman Behbud. At the age of 12, he studied harmony and composition lessons from Plus Khofri. In 1991 he graduated from the Sharif Technical University in Industrial Engineering.
Peyman also took part in master classes held in Tehran with Austrian Masters from Vienna and Graz conservatories as well as an advanced stage course in Marseilles with professor Ginette Gaubert.
Taking part in the international piano competition, Concour Musical de France, held in 1998, he was awarded the second prize and the year after he won the first prize at the same competition.
Since 1979 he has written 37 pieces for the Piano, most of which have been performed in various concerts in Tehran and Paris.
He has also composed the score of the opening announcement of the Locarno International Film Festival in 1998 (Birth of Light directed by Abbas Kiarostami)
Parisa is one of Iran’s foremost female vocalists. She is a master of the radif or classical Persian repertoire. This traditional musical style is based on improvisation within a modal structure known as dastgah. The performer’s skill rests in the extemporaneous vocal ornamentation of this basic melodic framework.
Born Fatemeh Vaezi, Parisa started her musical work under the supervision of the renowned Persian Radif teacher, Mahmoud Karimi, with whom she studied for ten years at the National Music Conservatory in Tehran. Two years through her pupilage, she was invited by the Ministry of Culture to work in the National Radio and Television Broadcasting.
In 1969 she began her singing career under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Art, performing throughout Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. She spent much of her early career fighting against bureaucratic obstacles and a misreprentation as a pop singer. The Ministry had misjudged her and gave her semi-pop tunes to perform. Eventually, a fierce crusade in the media
eventually allowed her to work with other traditional artists. Gradually, Parisa was seen at more traditional concerts, finally performing at the Shiraz Arts Festival during its last years.
Parisa’s musical talent truly bloomed when she was introduced to “The Iranian Center for Preservation and Dissimination of Music”. Her recordings of this period show a tremendous depth and growth in her musical understanding.
In recent years, Parisa has been successfully concentrating on teaching and guiding young talents. Since 1995, she has been performing in collaboration with Hossein Omoumi in various festivals and concerts around the world. Parisa currently lives in Iran.
Born in Iran, Mamak Khadem was part of the Children’s Choir for National Radio and Television, and immigrated to the U. S. as a teenager in 1976. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, her passion for singing and learning traditional Persian vocal styles grew.
“When I think of my childhood, my memories are inseparable from the melodies that touched my soul when I was growing up. It was through establishing this personal relationship with music as well as my training at the children’s choir for National Radio and Television of Iran that my musical education began. But it was not until the late 1970s and after the revolution that I truly became inspired to learn Persian traditional vocals.” Thus Mamak Khadem sums up her musical background.
She was inspired by works of master musicians in the 1980s and regularly traveled back to Iran to study with prominent vocalists and musicians. She also studied classical Indian singing at Ali Akbar Khan College of Music in northern California and Eastern European singing with the Los Angeles-based women’s choir Nevenka.
In 1992, Mamak joined Axiom of Choice, and over the next ten years created three albums with the group. Khadem embarked on a solo career and in 2007 released a new solo recording, Jostojoo (Forever Seeking). Inspired by her travels throughout the Middle East, Khadem adapts Persian poetry to rearranged traditional melodies from various regions of Iran, Baluchistan, Armenia, Turkey, Greece and Kurdistan.
Loga Ramin Torkian was the guitarist and musical director of Axiom of Choice. Born in Iran, he moved to the United States after the revolution. When asked to speak about his musical background, he says, “The path to defining one’s music is never straight. I reflect upon the day I left my flamenco guitar teacher – disheartened by his truthful comment that after practicing for years, the only way to bring myself to professional standards would be to move to Spain, otherwise my playing would always have an accent.
I knew I could not leave the United States for years to come and I felt I had reached an end. I did not realize then that I was about to discover something very unique within myself.” Loga spent the next three years studying the tar, a Persian lute and joined for a short period a traditional ensemble. But he quickly learned that he could not satisfy his creativity within the framework of traditional music. It was then that he decided to create the quarter-tone guitar to which he adapted many of the tar techniques and formed Axiom of Choice, which served as a common ground for other expatriates to work with him. “As an emigre artist, I have chosen to express myself in music that is not bound by the confines of traditional Persian music. Yet, my music in its very depth comes from that tradition,” said Loga who continues to use the radif (Persian repertoire) and Persian melodies as the source of his compositions. Many master musicians have welcomed his approach.
Loga’s unique approach to compositions is influenced heavily by years of playing for Masters Theses concerts at U.C.L.A. and by his education in Mathematics. “Dancers,” he says, “count to subdivide the space, not time! In mathematics one defines the axiom before articulating any theory. I find both principles to be of great help when I am composing. I also believe that every composition must have a concept or principle, and should not just be a direct expression of the subconscious. Often I use visual images to inspire and –assist musicians in the creation of these compositions. To me, musicians are like actors on stage. They bring to life through music their personal interpretations of images, feelings, ideas, and that to me is very respectable.”
Loga’s extensive travels around the world have been essential in developing his great sensitivity towards other cultures. He believes that any music originating from a specific tradition that crosses over to other cultures must remain equally convincing for the traditions that it involves.
In 2005, along with vocalist Azam Ali and programmer/producer Carmen Rizzo, Loga founded the best-selling world music group Niyaz. Blending medieval Sufi poetry and folk songs from Iran, the Indian sub-continent and Turkey, rich acoustic instrumentation, with modern electronics.
The Laymer folk music group of Boushehr began its artistic activities in 1991 by winning first place at the 6th Fadjr international Music Festival. The group has also participated in many festivals like the Iran Epical Music Festival, First Iran Scholars Festival, as well as cultural and artistic festivals in Germany and Yemen.
Most of the group’s performances are the result of several years of research done by its director, Mohammad Reza Beladi, which are based on themes, melodies and folk poems that were found in popular folklore.
Mohammad Reza Beladi also managed a research project with the title of Anthropology of Music of Boushehr, which documents the cultural heritage of southern Iran. Reza Beladi has also written articles for foreign arts magazines, initiated cooperation with other folk music groups from different parts of Iran as an investigator, worked with IRAN TV on the production of several documentary films about Iranian folk and is the composer for the Boushehr folk theater.
Leymer uses various indigenous musical instruments in its performances, such as the Ney – Anban (bagpipes), Dammam (a kind of drum), cymbals known as senj, Tempo (a cup -like percussion that is held upright between the legs and played with the hands), Deyre & Deyreh Zangi (tambourine), Bugh (horn shaped like an antler, which is decorated in a unique way and it is used with the Dammam & the senj in a ceremony with the same name), Nay – jofti (another melodic instrument which is like the handle of the Nay – Anban but it has a separate emotion than NayAnban. This instrument is played by blowing in it without interruption.
The group specializes in different dance and music forms such as Senj & Dammam (A percussive dance and musical form), Dance of Mouloudi, char – Dastmaleh (A musical form and dance), Yazleh (Dance and song that includes several percussion instruments and harmonic clapping), Neymeh (Special ceremonies for native sailors that include dance and song with percussion instruments), Folk songs such as Beyt, Sharveh and jangnameh.
Homayoun Shajarian, born in 1975, is the son of master vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian. He began playing tombak (goblet drum) at the age of five and later attended the Tehran Conservatory of Music.
As well as tombak, Homayoun plays the kamancheh and studies the vocal tradition with his father. Since 1991 he has played in many ensembles accompanying his father on tombak in concerts in Europe, Iran and North America.
As a disciple of his father, Homayoun has developed many similar vocal qualities and will continue a new generation of the great Persian vocal tradition.
Without You (World Village, 2002)
Masters Of Persian Music – Faryad (World Village, 2003)
Na Shakiba (Ryan Production, 2004) Mayeh-ye Dashti / Mayeh-ye Isfahan (Celestial Harmonies, 2009) Simorq (Celestial Harmonies, 2013)
Emshab Kenar-e Ghazalhaye Man Bekhab (Barbad Music, 2017)
Ba setareh ha
Ab, nan, Avaz
Ey jan-e jan bi man maro
Beyond Any Form
Neither Angel Nor Devil
The Occult And The Intoxicated – Mastoor o Mast
The Lords Of Secrets – Khodavandane Asrar
Houman Pourmehdi plays tombak (goblet drum). He is well known for his diverse abilities as a musician, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. Pourmehdi’s deep understanding of the Persian musical heritage and his belief in exploring new territories make him a unique musician. He has played a pivotal part in advancing the tombak’s role in ensemble work with his distinct style in playing tombak.
Pourmehdi has won acclaim throughout the world both as a solo artist and as an accompanist for some of the world’s most prestigious and renowned artists such as Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Wadada Leo Smith, Rajeev Taranath, John Bergamo, to name a few.
Quest, with Amir Koushkani (Songlines Recordings, 1998) Maiden’s Prayer, with Lisa Lynne (New Earth Records, 2001)
Lulka, withVanja Lazarova, Miroslav Tadić (Third Ear Music, 2003) Earthsea, soundtrack (Varèse Sarabande, 2004)
Psalms album (Al Urmawi Center For Mashreq Music, 2005) Hand’Stan (Hands On’Semble, 2006)
Born in Tehran, Iran in 1962, Hossein Behroozi-Nia studied tar with Vohdaney, barbat with M. Nariman, and radif with Mr. M. R. Lotfi. After studying at the Conservatory of Persian Music, he became the Musical Director of Ensemble Khaleghi and Director of Musical Education at the Center for the Preservation of Persian Music.
Behroozi-Nia is the greatest living barbat player from Iran. He is also noted for his brilliant compositions and powerful improvisations on this ancient lute, which is the predecessor
of the ud, and various European lutes. Mr. Behroozi-Nia was the Music Director of the National Radio and Television Orchestra of Tehran and has made many recordings with a great variety of ensembles as well as his solo works Barbat, Koohestan and Yadestan.
Concert engagements have taken Mr. Behroozi-Nia all over the world, from North America, Europe to Asia and Southeast Asia, including the Sacred Music Festival in Fez, Morocco, collaborating and performing with various traditional music ensembles including Aref, Mowlana, and Dastan. Currently Mr. Behroozi-Nia is actively teaching and giving concerts all over the world. He lives in Vancouver, Canada with his family.
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