Iran’s Famed Musician, Composer and 2006 Grammy Nominee Hossein Alizadeh Brings His Hamavayan Ensemble to UCLA Live, March 16

“[Alizadeh] is a player of extraordinary technique and passion, for sure, but more importantly a visionary with an eye toward the redefinition of classical Persian music.”—LA Weekly

LOS ANGELES—One of the most important figures in contemporary Iranian music, master composer, instrumentalist and three-time Grammy nominee Hossein Alizadeh returns to UCLA Live with Iran’s groundbreaking Hamavayan Ensemble in “Persian Innovations,” performing new interpretations of classic Persian music. The group’s first North American tour, which includes seven dates in the U.S. and Canada, coincides with the recent Grammy nomination. Featuring strings, percussion and vocalists showcasing internationally renowned soloist Afsaneh Rasaei, the group also presents Alizadeh’s fraternal twin sons in their musical debut. The concert will begin at 8 p.m., Friday, March 16, 2007, at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus and runs approximately 2 hours with one intermission. For tickets visit, call 310-825-2101 or contact Ticketmaster.

Hossein Alizadeh & The Hamavayan Ensemble

An accomplished virtuoso on the tar and the setar (Persia’s ancient plucked lutes), Alizadeh has performed throughout North America and Europe for the past ten years as a soloist and member of the supergroup Masters of Persian Music, with whom he appeared at UCLA Live’s sold-out concert in March 2006. Hailed as Persian classical music’s greatest innovator, Alizadeh continues to surprise and challenge within this ancient—yet dynamic—tradition. The latest of his many advancements is the introduction of a relatively new instrument called the shurangiz, that he has modified to the extent that it is almost his own creation. Combining aspects of the six-stringed tar, four-stringed setar and Kurdish tanbur, the shurangiz has six strings and an expansive, unique sound that is both delicate and richly voiced.

Led by Alizadeh on the shurangiz, the Hamavayan Ensemble—a rare mixed-gender group—includes female vocalist Afsaneh Rasaei, who studied with Alizadeh and Mohammad Reza Shajarian, and male vocalist Pouria Akhavass with musicians Pejman Hadadi on tombak and daf (percussion); Ali Boustan on setar (lute); and Hossein’s sons Nima Alizadeh on robab (lute) and Saba Alizadeh on kamancheh (spike fiddle).

Hossein Alizadeh with Shurangiz by Ali Boustan

“Persian Innovations” includes a program of music, poetry and songs composed by Alizadeh, opening with an improvisation featuring Alizadeh and Hadadi. As in other “improvised” traditions, the performance of Persian classical music is far from “free” and is firmly grounded in a lengthy and rigorous training involving the precise memorization of a canonic repertoire known as the radif. Creative performance lies at the heart of Persian classical music and, like other Middle Eastern traditions, it is based on the exploration of short modal pieces and the complex detail of the solo melody line, typically performed by a solo singer and a single instrument accompanist.

Alizadeh and the Hamavayan Ensemble will open part two of the performance with “Soroud-e Gol” (Ode to Flowers), with selections of poems such as “Sarmast” and “Avaz-e Robab” by the 13th century Sufi poet Molavi (also known as Jalal-e Din Rumi), and works by Hafez, Shafee Kadkani and Feridoun Moshiri. Poetry has played a central role in Iranian culture for centuries, and it was through poetry, particularly that of Molavi, that the message of mystical Sufism found its most potent voice.

Hossein Alizadeh with Shurangiz by Ali Boustan

Alizadeh received a 2006 Grammy nomination for his latest CD, “Endless Vision,” on World Village Music, distributed by Harmonia Mundi U.S.A. The album, nominated in the “Best Traditional World Music” category, is an exploration of the influence of Armenian traditions in Iranian music and features a collaboration with the noted Armenian duduk virtuoso Djivan Gasparyan and members of Hamavayan Ensemble. Alizadeh has made numerous recordings and received two prior Grammy nominations for his work with the Masters of Persian Music, for the group’s 2002 debut release “Without You” and their follow-up 2005 live recording “Faryad.” He has composed many works of contemporary and neo-classical Iranian music, and is internationally known for his soundtracks for Iran’s award-winning “new wave” films including “Gabbeh,” “Turtles Can Fly” and “A Time for Drunken Horses.”

Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1950, Alizadeh was named Best Contemporary Artist in 2000 by Iran’s Ministry of Culture. He learned the radif of Persian classical music with many masters of the tradition including Houshang Zarif, Ali Akbar Shahnazi, Nur-Ali Borumand, Mahmoud Karimi and Abdollah Davami, and later recorded the entire body of the radif based on the interpretation of Mirza Abdullah for tar and setar. He received a B.A. in Music Composition and Performance from the University of Tehran, and later studied Composition and Musicology at the University of Berlin. Alizadeh has taught at the University of Tehran, the Tehran Music Conservatory and the California Institute of the Arts.

In the 1980s, Alizadeh performed with the National Orchestra of Iran and became the conductor and a soloist for the Iranian National Radio and Television Orchestra. He established the acclaimed Aref Ensemble and also worked with the Shayda Ensemble. His first professional experience in Europe was playing in the orchestra of the Bejart Ballet Company in Maurice Bejart’s ballet “Gulistan.”

Hossein Alizadeh & The Hamavayan Ensemble

Tickets for Hossein Alizadeh and Hamavayan Ensemble are available for $55, $42 and $32. They can be purchased online at, via phone at 310-825-2101, in person at the UCLA Central Ticket Office at the southwest corner of the James West Alumni Center and at all Ticketmaster outlets. UCLA students may purchase tickets in advance for $17. Student rush tickets, subject to availability, are offered at the same price to all students with a valid i.d. one hour prior to show time.

UCLA Live is an internationally acclaimed producer and presenter of music, dance, theater and spoken word, bringing hundreds of outstanding and provocative artists to Los Angeles each year.

Front Page