Tag Archives: Iranian music

Rudolstadt Festival Announces 2019 Program

Germany’s largest world music event, Rudolstadt Festival, will take place July 4-7, 2019. The opening concert on 4 July will be a tribute concert dedicated to splendid female artists from the worlds of jazz, folk and blues. Sing The Truth is a project by three women who are themselves acclaimed for their extraordinary voices – Lizz Wright, Angelique Kidjo and Cecile McLoren Salvant – with drummer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington acting as musical director.

Three days later, the closing concert will feature alternative country pioneers, the Cowboy Junkies from Canada, who have raised the bar with their slow motion blues and folk sounds.

Cowboy Junkies

The massive line-up at this year’s festival includes 300 concerts, workshops and discussions. One of the standout acts is the Herbert Pixner Projekt from South Tyrol. This quartet from the Alps transcends all sorts of musical borders with their mastery of flamenco, tango, gypsy jazz and rock riffs, and is in high demand in the German-speaking world.

Presently, one of the most sought-after Icelandic musicians is Ólafur Arnalds with his sound collages made up of art, music and technology.

Luedji Luna

A new figurehead of Afro-Brazilian women is Luedji Luna, who frequently serves up her songs addressing social problems with laidback tunes enhanced with elements of both jazz and R&B.

South African singer-songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou, who launched her career by busking in Berlin, will perform poetry with a touch of jazz, summing up the music of South Africa.

Small Island Big Song

Die Höchste Eisenbahn, who will be releasing their third album this summer, also began their successful journey in Berlin by pairing catchy melodies with zeitgeisty humor. Then there’s the unique project Small Island Big Song, whose members come from island nations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans which are literally threatened with extinction by climate change.

Musical contrasts from Iran

To represent Iran, this year’s special guest country, the Rudolstadt Festival has selected nine ensembles and devised a richly contrasting program. It ranges from performances based on centuries-old traditions to music driven by current political protests. “The festival intends to convey that there’s a vibrant cultural scene in Iran striving to find its own way and make itself known internationally,” declared program director Bernhard Hanneken. In Rudolstadt, Iranian artists will also be given a forum to talk about their lives, their circumstances, and their opportunities for artistic expression.

Hamid Motebassem Ensemble

On the opening night, the band Damahi will be performing a pop-oriented fusion of Iranian and world music genres. One of Iran’s most prominent musicians is tar and setar player Hamid Motebassem, who is also a noted composer. At Rudolstadt, he will be presenting compositions such as his orchestral work Pardis accompanied by the Thuringian Symphony Orchestra from Saalfeld-Rudolstadt. What’s more, they’ll be joined by one of Iran’s best-known women‘s voices, Mahdieh Mohammadkhani.

Hamnava Ensemble

There is another expressive female singer in the Hamnava Ensemble, which hails from Bushehr in southwest Iran on the Persian Gulf. Baran Mozafari is one of the few women endeavoring to take the female vocal styles from the region into the 21st century.

Ali Ghamsari – Photo by Ashkan Azadbakht

Tar virtuoso Ali Ghamsari from Tehran represents a subtle, innovative variety of classical Persian music. By contrast, Shahin Najafi’s current program is a powerful contemporary blend of jazz, blues, rock and Persian folk songs.

Apart from the performances by the nine Iranian ensembles, there will be discussions with the artists during the festival and a wide-ranging symposium with topics including the status of women in Iran, the social aspect of Iranian music, Persian poetry, record production and marketing.

New partnership: The EBU Folk Festival in Rudolstadt

With the Rudolstadt Festival being held for the 29th time in 2019, this year marks the start of a new partnership with  the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The EBU will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of its own Euroradio Folk Festival by presenting selected musicians in Rudolstadt.

Husistein-Musik

This partnership has been initially set to run for three years, meaning the Euroradio Folk Festival will also provide a forum for various facets of the European scene at the Rudolstadt Festival in 2020 and 2021. Both sides hope for lasting collaboration with Graham Dixon, the EBU’s Head of Radio, even talking of a new chapter in the European Broadcasting Union’s history: “Despite the wide participation and high quality of performance, until now, the EBU Folk Festival has never enjoyed a long-term home. From now, working together with the well-established festival in Rudolstadt provides an opportunity to pool our resources.”

SibA Folk Big Band

This summer, editorial teams from 16 EBU member states will be taking part together with artists from their respective countries. They represent a wide variety in every respect, ranging from the 23-strong Finnish SibA Folk Big Band to solo accordion performances by Yegor Zabelov from Belarus and Otto Lechner from Austria, both of whom perform in their own distinctive manner. Nineteenth-century dance music will be fronted by Husistein-Musik from Switzerland while at the opposite end of the spectrum, avant-garde Polish group Polmuz will be taking the concept of folk music in an experimental direction.

More at www.rudolstadt-festival.de

headline photo: Colombia’s La 33

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Artist Profiles: Zohreh Jooya

Zohreh Jooya

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.

Discography:

Persian Nights: Traditional Folk Music from Iran (ARC Music, 1995)
Journey To Persia (ARC Music, 1998)
Music of the Persian Mystics (ARC Music, 2003)
Songs of Afghanistan (ARC Music, 2004)
Afghan Music (ARC Music, 2010)
Essence Of Love

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Artist Profiles: Sima Bina

Sima Bina

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.

Partial Discography:

Eshghe Gol (Caltex, 1978)
Zolfaye Yaaram (Caltex, 1993)
Persian Classical Music ‎(Nimbus Records, 1995)
Nava’i (Quartertone Records, 1998)
Melodies of Sahara (Caltex, 1998)
Sounds From the Plain (Caltex, 1999)
Music Of South Khorassan ‎(Caltex, 1999)
Music Of Khorassan (Caltex, 1999)
Dorna (Caltex, 2000)
Golden Songs of Sima Bina, 4 CD boxed set (Caltex, 2004)

DVDs

Sima Bina Live in Amsterdam
Sima Bina Live in Los Angeles

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Artist Profiles: Peyman Yazdanian

Peyman Yazdanian
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)

Discography:

Second Take (Hermes, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Parisa

Parisa

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.

Discography:

Parisa (Caltex, 1996)
Baz Amadam (Playasound, 1996)
Tale of Love: Esfahan (Quartertone Records, 1999)
Sham-I-Vafa – Candle of Faith (Amity Records, 2002)
Tale of Love II – Nava (Quartertone Records, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Mamak Khadem

Mamak Khadem

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.

Mamak Khadem

Khadem has also been a featured performer on several film and television scores, including The Peacemaker, Traffic, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica. She sang music composed by Iranian ethnomusicologist Mohammad Reza Darvishi for the play Majles-e Shabih (by renowned Iranian playwright and director Bahram Bayzaie). In addition, Khadem has recorded with Turkish singer Omar Faruk Tekbilek (on the album Alif), Jamshied Sharifi (on A Prayer for the Soul of Layla) and Tulku (on Season of Souls, compiled on the Buddha Bar series).

Discography

Solo:

Jostojoo: Forever Seeking (Banyan Tree, 2007)
A Window to Color (2011)
The Road (Innova, 2015)

With Axiom of Choice:

Beyond Denial (Faray-e Enkaar) (X Dot 25, 1996)
Niya Yesh (Narada World, 2000)
Unfolding (Goshayesh) (Narada World, 2002)

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Artist Profiles: Loga Ramin Torkian

Loga Ramin Torkian

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.

He is currently based in Montreal, Canada.

Discography

Solo:

Mehraab (Six Degrees Records, 2012)

With Axiom of Choice:

Beyond Denial (Faray-e Enkaar) (X Dot 25, 1996)
Niya Yesh (Narada World, 2000)
Unfolding (Goshayesh) (Narada World, 2002)

With Niyaz:

Niyaz (Six Degrees, 2005)
Nine Heavens (Six Degrees, 2008)
Sumud (Six Degrees, 2012)
The Fourth Light (Six Degrees, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Laymer

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.

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Artist Profiles: Homayoun Shajarian

Homayoun Shajarian

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.

Discography:

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)
Nasim-e vasl
Showq-e doost
Naghsh-e khiyal
Ba setareh ha
Gheyzhaak-e kouli
Khorshid-e arezoo
Ab, nan, Avaz
Shab-e jodayi
Showq nameh
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

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Artist Profiles: Houman Pourmehdi

Houman Pourmehdi

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.

Discography:

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)

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