Press Release: Masters of Persian Music

January 17, 2006

The brilliant artistry of Masters of Persian Music
returns to UCSB Campbell Hall

Summary Facts:

  • Masters of Persian Music
  • Four of Iran’s greatest musicians
  • Their work celebrates Persian classical music and Sufi poetry
  • Tuesday, February 28 / 8 pm
  • UCSB Campbell Hall
  • General public: $40 / UCSB students: $19
  • Tickets/information: UCSB Arts & Lectures at (805) 893-3535

Three of the most important figures in classical Persian music return to the U.S. following two previous sold-out tours. They will perform at UCSB Campbell Hall on Tuesday, February 28 at 8 pm. Iran’s great vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian, tar (lute) maestro Hossein Alizadeh, and Kayhan Kalhor, a virtuoso of the kamancheh (spike fiddle) will be joined by Shajarian’s son, Homayoun Shajarian, on tombak (drum) and vocals. Their program features new works drawing on the rich heritage of Persian classical music and ancient Sufi and contemporary poetry. This tour also celebrates the release of their third CD Faryad (which means “cry”) on the World Village label, a follow-up to the Grammy-nominated 2003 release Without You. The Village Voice wrote about their last live performance in New York, “Wonder, gravitas and epic evening of ruminative poetry and deep improvisation.”

Mohammad Reza Shajarain is the undisputed master of Avaz (Persian traditional singing). Under the tutelage of his father, he began singing at the age of five, in his native Mash’had (Khorasan, in northeastern Iran). By the age of twelve, he was studying the radif (the traditional repertoire and basis of all Persian traditional music, made up of twelve dastgahs, or modes). He was inspired by the late master Gholam Hossein Banan, and also studied under master Davami. His singing career began in 1959 at Radio Khorasan, where he quickly rose to prominence in the 1960s. Shajarian has had an illustrious career—teaching, researching the music of Iran and performing around the world. In 1999, UNESCO awarded him the prestigious Picasso Medal, which is presented annually to musicians who have contributed to peace, dialogue and international cooperation. Previous honorees include singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, composer Dimitri Shostakovich and violinist Yehudi Menuhin. The Toronto Globe & Mail claims, “Shajarian is a superstar, the Pavarotti of Persian classical music.”

Hossein Alizadeh—on tar and setar—graduated from the Tehran Music Conservatory and later received a baccalaureate in composition and performance from the University of Tehran School of Music. Contemporaneously, he studied under various masters of traditional Persian music, including Zarif, Shahnazi, Borumand, Karimi and Davami. He has conducted and performed as a soloist for the Iranian National Radio and Television Orchestra, co-founded the Aref Ensemble, performed with the Shayda Ensemble, and participated in the orchestra of the famous Bejart Ballet Company. Alizadeh has performed around the world and composed extensively, including numerous orchestral works, as well as film scores; he has also taught at the University of Tehran—where he was Rector of the School of Music—and at UCLA and the California Institute of the Arts.

Kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor began his music studies at the age of seven, under master Ahmad Mohajer, and appeared with the Iranian National Radio and Television Orchestra, and the Shayda Ensemble during his teens. He has composed works for Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Kronos Quartet, and most recently for cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. Kalhor has toured extensively, performing with Shahram Nazeri and Hossein Alizadeh. He is also one of the founders of the Dastan Ensemble, one of the most important Iranian ensemble groups today, and of the collaborative Indo-Persian group Ghazal with Indian sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan.

Homayoun Shajarian, the son of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, grew up with Persian classical music, playing the tombak at the age of five, then progressing to daf, and finally avaz. He studied tombak and daf under master Nasser Farhangar and Jamshid Mohebbi, and has performed with many ensembles and accompanied his father on tombak at concerts around the world. During this time, he has also quietly been studying avaz with his father.

The public is invited to a free Meet-the-Artists Discussion on Tuesday, February 28 at 2 pm in the UCSB McCune Conference Room, Humanities and Social Sciences Building. This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies.

Concert-goers may enhance their experience by attending an Iranian buffet served by the UCSB Faculty Club at 6 pm prior to the show. The dinner is $18 per person; reservations must be made by February 21 by calling (805) 893-3096.

Masters of Persian Music are presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures and sponsored by KCBX Public Radio and Borders Books. Tickets are $40 for the general public and $19 for UCSB students who must show valid ID at ticket purchase and the evening of the show. Ticket prices are subject to convenience fees. Tickets are on sale now and can also be purchased at the door, if still available.

For tickets or more information,
call UCSB Arts & Lectures at (805) 893-3535.

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