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Masters of Persian Music

About this Artist

HOSSEIN ALIZADEH is considered an inspiration to an entire generation of Iran’s musical culture. He was born in Tehran in 1951, and has studied with various masters of traditional Persian music, including Ali Akbar Khan Shahnazi, Nur Ali Borumand, Abdollah Davami, Mahmood Karimi, and Houshang Zarif. He further expanded his formal education by studying composition and musicology at the University of Berlin. Alizadeh was awarded a position with the National Orchestra of Iran and later became the conductor and soloist of the Iranian National Radio and Television Orchestra. He founded the Aref Ensemble and performed with the Shayda Ensemble, both dedicated to the promotion and advancement of Iranian classical music. He also participated in the orchestra of the Béjart Ballet Company in a performance of Gulistan, by Maurice Béjart. In 2000, the Ministry of Culture in Iran declared him the best contemporary artist.

Alizadeh has composed many works of contemporary and neo-classical Iranian music and published a number of etudes for tar and setar. Notable works include Hessar, Ney Nava, and Song of Compassion as well as several film scores, such as Gabbeh, A Time for Drunken Horses, and, most recently, Turtles Can Fly. In addition, Alizadeh has recorded the entire body of the radif,based on the interpretation of Mirza Abdollah. He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia and has appeared on many radio and television programs around the world. Alizadeh has taught at the University of Tehran, the Tehran Music Conservatory, and the California Institute of the Arts.

Three-time Grammy nominee KAYHAN KALHOR is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso on the kamancheh. He has been instrumental in popularizing Persian music in the West and is a creative force in today’s music scene. His performances of traditional Persian music and multiple musical collaborations have attracted audiences around the globe. He has studied the music of Iran’s many regions, in particular those of Khorason and Kordestan, and has toured the world as a soloist with various ensembles and orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de Lyon. He is co-founder of the renowned ensembles Dastan, Ghazal: Persian & Indian Improvisations, and Masters of Persian Music. Kayhan Kalhor has composed works for Iran’s renowned vocalists Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri and has also performed and recorded with Iran’s greatest instrumentalists.

Kalhor has composed music for television and film and was most recently featured on the soundtrack of Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth in a score on which he collaborated with Osvaldo Golijov. In 2004, Kayhan was invited by American composer John Adams to give a solo recital at Carnegie Hall as part of the Perspectives Series, and in the same year he appeared on a double bill at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, sharing the program with the Festival Orchestra performing the Mozart Requiem. Kayhan is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project and his compositions appear on all three of the ensemble’s albums. 

HAMID REZA NOURBAKHSH is considered one of today’s finest Iranian vocalists. He studied under the supervision of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a living legend in Iranian classical music. He has performed with renowned artists and groups, including the Shams Ensemble, the Aref Ensemble, the Ukraine Philharmonic Orchestra, and the great santur master Faramarz Payvar. He performed with Kayhan Kalhor at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris and is currently the director of Iran’s House of Music.

PEZHHAM AKHAVASS was born in 1980 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from Tehran’s Sureh University. He began learning youth music theory under the instruction of Naser Nazar at the age of 5. With the support of his father, Pezhham began studying the tombak with the guidance of Naser Farhanghfar. He also became acquainted with members of the Masters of Persian Music and performed with them both locally and on tour in Iran and Europe.

FARIBORZ AZIZI was born in Tehran in 1961. He has performed tar and setar for more than 30 years. Before devoting himself to classical Persian music, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tehran University. He first became attracted to music during his teenage years, listening to the radio show Golchin Hafteh. He was heavily influenced by the Chavosh musical masters, including Hossein Alizadeh, who has been his master for more than ten years.

SIAMAK JAHANGIRY is a rising star in the world of Iranian classical music. Born in northern Iran, he began playing the nay at age twelve. His learned first from Abdolnaghi Afsharnia before going on to study with Iran’s most eminent nay players, primarily Mohammad Ali Kiani Nejad. He received his degree in music from Tehran University of the Arts and has written a book on the nay, its playing techniques in the 20th century, and its masters.

ROUZBEH RAHIMI joins the group for the first time, representing the third generation of Masters of Persian Music.