American chamber music ensemble Kronos Quartet has recorded an album titled Placeless (Kirkelig Kulturverksted) with Iranian artists Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat.
“This recording is a milestone for us,” says Mahsa Vahdat. “The wonderful musicians in Kronos Quartet have given our music new dimensions. By performing poems from Persia’s classical era, we have been coming closer to finding an organic connection between what we express in our art and the way we live.”
Kronos’ artistic director, founder and violinist David Harrington adds “We’re always trying to learn as much as we can, and now, recording with Mahsa and Marjan, we sometimes are able to make sounds we have never before heard from our instruments.”
Mohammad Reza Lotfi was born in 1947 in Gorgan, northern Iran. Encouraged by his elder brother, he learned to play the tar and showed his talent by winning the first prize in Iran’s Young Musicians Festival in 1964. The following year, he started his studies at the National Conservatory in Tehran under Habibollah Salehi and Master Ali Akbar Shahnazi. While at the conservatory, he also studied western classical music and the violin which led to his collaboration with various orchestras under the direction of Hossein Dehlavi. Some of his other eminent teachers were Abdollah Davami, from whom he learned the Radif, and Master Hormozi, who taught him the setar.
While attending the College of Fine Arts at Tehran University, Lotfi became the student of Master Nour-Ali Boroumand. He also worked at the Center for the Preservation and Propagation of Traditional Iranian Music, both as a soloist and a conductor. His other accomplishments were teaching at the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Adolescents, researching folk music for National Radio and Television, and appearing at the Shiraz Arts Festival.
After graduating in 1973, Lotfi joined the faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University. He continued his collaboration with Radio and Television and co-founded the Shayda Ensemble. Between 1978 and 1980, Lotfi became the Head of the School of Music at Tehran University. He served as the director of the Center for the Preservation and Propagation of Traditional Iranian Music and the Chavosh Conservatory. In 1984 Lotfi was invited by Fondazione Cini to participate in a seminar and perform concerts in Italy where he resided for two years. He has been living in the United States since 1986 and has performed widely throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. A prolific musician, he has made numerous recordings both as a solo artist and with major Iranian musicians such as Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Shahram Nazeri, Hossein Alizadeh, and Parviz Meshkatian.
Lotfi is one of the greatest contemporary masters of the tar and setar. He is among the major figures who, in the past twenty years, have revolutionized the Persian traditional (classical) music. His innovative approach of combining the classical with folk elements, both in terms of music and technique, has injected a new vitality into a very old tradition. His original creativity and the deep-rooted emotional quality of his playing have made him the father of a new aesthetics in Persian music.
Mohammad Reza Lotfi died on May 2, 2014 in Tehran, Iran.
Tar and sitar master Sahba Motallebi is set to perform Saturday, January 27th accompanied by Naghmeh Farahmand at North Beach Bandshell in Miami.
Sahba Motallebi is an award-winning Iranian musician. She began studying music as a young girl in Sari, northern Iran. Shortly after graduating from the Tehran Conservatory of Music, she co-founded a pioneering women’s music ensemble and later joined the Iranian National Orchestra, beginning her career as an international performer.
She left Iran in 2003 to pursue graduate studies, closed to her there because of her faith. Sahba is also recognized as an innovator in the teaching of Persian music, putting instructional materials on the internet and teaching students online.
North Beach Bandshell
7275 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL, 33141
Latvian world jazz ensemble Baraka focuses on the ancient Persian ghazal tradition that spread throughout Central Asia (Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan). Three female vocalists appear on Gole Sangam: Tajik traditional singer Zarina Tadjibaeva, Baraka’s regular soloist Devika Evsikova and spoken word artist Iran Raihi, who recites verses written by contemporary Iranian poets.
Even though Baraka specializes in what they call ethno jazz, this project sounds like a smooth jazz ensemble backing the vocalists. The fusion could have worked better with less saxophone and some additional traditional instruments. Aside from the vocals and percussion, there is barely any Central Asian musical influence.
Personnel: Zarina Tadjibaeva on lead vocals; Devika Evsikova on vocals, bass, Chapman stick, fretless bass, Rhodes piano; Iran Raihi on spoken word; Deniss Pashkevich on saxophone and flute; Artem Sarvi on Hammond organ, Rhodes and synthesizer; Egor Kovaikov on acoustic and electric guitar, sitar; Dmitry Evsikov on bongo, conga, darbuka, ghatam, clay pot, daff; Marcis Vasilevskis on electric guitar; Vilnis Kundrats on tenor saxophone; Artur Kupetov on electric guitar; Madars Kalniņš on Hammond organ and synthesizer; Zigmund Kukovsky on bass; Janis Amantov on trumpet.
One of the finest acts in the world music scene, Niyaz featuring Azam Ali will perform its 21st Century Global Trance Music on Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 pm at Roulette in New York City.
Niyaz combines Sufi poetry and folk songs from its native Iran and surrounding countries with rich acoustic instrumentation and modern electronics. Formed in California in 2004 and currently based in Montreal, Niyaz’s sound bridges the gap between East and West.
The group was founded by the mesmerizing vocalist andcomposer Azam Ali, whose Iranian heritage and Indian upbringing have deeply influenced her music, and multi-instrumentalist and composer Loga Ramin Torkian (oud & kamaan lutes). They will be joined by Didem Basar (kanun), Gabriel Ethier (keyboards, programming), Vaneet Vyas (tabla), and whirling dervish dancer Miriam Peretz.
The show Qasida: Flamenco Meets Persian Music is set for Friday, March 18 at 8:30 p.m. at Zankel Hall.
Qasida combines musicians from Spain and Iran who represent and expand upon the ancient musical relationships from which flamenco is derived.
Led by two powerful vocalists, Rosario Guerrero “La Tremendita” (Sevilla, Spain) and Mohammad Motamedi (Iran), the group explores the roots of flamenco in the richly varied poetic songs and improvisations of Motamedi. Songs of Spanish folk poetry and Persian high art merge into a musical world in which the spirit of ancient ‘Al-Andalus’ is briefly revived.
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Seventh Avenue between 57th and 56th Street, New York City.
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.