Tag Archives: Iranian music

A Beautiful Journey Through the Musics of the Middle East

Mehdi Rajabian

Mehdi Rajabian – Middle East (Sony Music, 2019)

Middle Eastern is the latest album from Iranian multi-instrumentalist and composer Mehdi Rajabian. The album is dedicated to the rich musical traditions of the Middle East and focuses on various countries within the region. Mehdi Rajabian brings together classical forms from the Turkish, Persian and Arabic traditions, together with traditional music elements and western classical influences.

Mehdi Rajabian – Middle East

Middle Eastern is an exceptionally good, masterfully-constructed work featuring master instrumentalists using traditional instruments as well as piano and electric bass, along with superb arrangements and majestic cinematic passages.

Mehdi Rajabian invited a hundred musicians from twelve countries in the Middle East. Ironically, the album is not available in Iran due to the restrictions Rajabian is facing. He was imprisoned due to his musical activities. Some of the musicians who participated in the album were refugees fleeing from war or under other forms of stress.

Mehdi Rajabian appears on the album representing Iran. Guests include Arslan Hazreti (Turkey & Syria); Elnur Mikayilov (Azerbaijan & Turkey); Yousuf Alluwaihi (Oman), Tahira Jamal Albalushi (Oman); Alfares (Yemen); Wasim Qassis (Iraq & Palestine); Basem Hawwar (Palestine); Sakhnini Brothers (Palestine); Yarub Smarait (Jordan); Mohamed Saed (Egypt); Hussain Alhaddad (Bahrain); Ali Alolaiwi (Bahrain); and Omar Teymoorov (Tajikistan).

The cover of the album is a photo by Reza Deghati shot in Iraq.

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Garden Quartet‘s Contemporary Iranian-Australian Fusion

Garden Quartet – Garden Quarrtet

Garden Quartet – Garden Quartet (Bleemo Music, 2019)

Australian audiences were reported to be “spellbound throughout” recent performances by Garden Quartet’s performance of music from their debut self-titled album. Ancient Persian language and melodies are embroidered with threads of trans-global influence – old and new. While the result is born of improvisation, it delivers a complete soundscape, Earthy yet ethereal. Delicate and vibrant.

Since relocating from Iran to Melbourne, front woman Gelareh Pour has ventured beyond her classical training. Collaborating with experimental musicians, her adventurous spirit found a platform to soar. Pour has dabbled in genres from theatrical to Persian post-Rock and metal.

Formed in 2016, Garden Quartet comprises two Iranian-born artists with two from Melbourne. On kamancheh (4-stringed Persian spiked fiddle) and qeychak (bowed lute), Pour plays in musical conversation with partner Bryan O’Dwyer (drums), Mike Gallichio (electric guitar, bass and piano) and Arman Habibi (santur and vocals). The engine room of guitar and percussion provide solid ground for the rhythm of the santur (hammer dulcimer) and the melodic drone of Kamancheh.

Original compositions accompany emotive poetry. In Iran, women singers cannot perform publically as soloists. In a modern diasporic setting, Pour’s Farsi vocal interpretations scale unexpected heights. On ‘I Am An Ocean’, she sings the words of Nozar Parang: Why stay in dirt with no hope?  On ‘Anxiety Wars’ (lyrics by Houshang Ebtehaj: The small cage door is open but it’s a shame, The wings of my voice are broken.

As an ethnomusicologist, Pour’s instrumental practice preserves a classical tradition. As an interpreter of words, she expresses her own need to be heard on a welcoming platform.

The conversations between instruments and voice follow the improvisational tradition of her musical roots. The interplay of learned structuring and innovation captivates. Joining Pour and O’Dwyer on production, Myles Mumford shares their passion and experience over an array of musical styles.

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Artist Profiles: Kaveh Sarvarian

Kaveh Sarvarian

Musician and composer Kaveh Sarvarian was born in Tehran, Iran in 1976. He has a Master of Composition, University of Art of Tehran.

Throughout his long career, he has performed in different countries. In Iran he was a member of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra (transverse flute), Rastak Ensemble (folk wind instruments), Naima Persian Jazz Fusion (flute, ney, tombak).

He was a professor at the University of Art of Tehran, in the Department of Music and Composition. Kaveh moved to Madrid, Spain around 2010. He presently directs the Parsinava ensemble where he delves into jazz sonorities within traditional Persian music.

Kaveh co-directs Kereshmeh, along with dancer Patricia Álvarez. It is a groundbreaking project based on the compositions of his album titled Kereshmeh, where they explore folk languages incorporated into a contemporary scenic concept.

In addition to Parsinava ensemble and Kereshmeh, Kaveh also participates in various other music ensembles and projects: Darawish (Arabic-Mediterranean fusion music), The Silk Road, Capella de Ministrers and Carles Magraner, Eduardo Paniagua.

He also is the author of three instructive books, “The Comprehensive Method of Ney “, ” Persian Music Ornamentation for Ney” , and” Tombak Method “.

Kaveh lives in Madrid, Spain where he gives online Persian music lessons on Skype and works on his musical projects.

His recordings include Parisan (Quartets for Ney), Persian Rug (Flute duo and piano), Avareh (Jazz fusion), Ofogh, Sonido del oriente (Persian music on a trip to Spain) and Kereshmeh (new perspective of Persian music).

Discography:

Persian Rug, with Hamzeh Yeganeh (2014)
Parisan (2014)
Avareh, with Hamzeh Yeganeh (2014)
Moonlight Sky (2014)
Ofogh (2014)
Sonido del oriente (2015)
Kereshmeh – Nueva perspectiva de música persa (2019)

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Marvelous Persian Flute Fusion Works

Kaveh Sarvarian – Kereshmeh  – Nueva perspectiva de música persa (La Cupula Music, 2019)

Iranian multi-instrumentalist Kaveh Sarvarian has released a new album titled Kereshmeh, which is a type of ancient melody in classical Iranian music. Kereshmeh is also an exploration on the opportunities of composing and improvising in less known rhythms and a way of using percussion in a simpler form.

Kaveh Sarvarian – Kereshmeh  – Nueva perspectiva de música persa

Madrid-based Kaveh Sarvarian combines traditional Persian music, jazz fusion, Bakuchi and Armenian folk traditions and contemporary experimental music forms. He uses beautiful layers of various types of flutes, including the ney, accompanied by a wide range of percussion, subtle keyboards such as fascinating electric piano and organ and piano.

Adding different tracks and making a musical loop was something unfamiliar to me,” says Kaveh Sarvarian. “It is an idea that I have been experimenting and learning over the past few years. In Kereshmeh, I have tried to use this technique with the traditional and folkloric music of Iran.”

Buy the digital edition of Kereshmeh  – Nueva perspectiva de música persa from amazon or the CD from kavehsarvarian.bandcamp.com/album/kereshmeh

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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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