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Middle East Kayhan Kalhor nominated in the Middle East category

Kayhan Kalhor (Iran)

Song : Kurdish Music for kamancheh and tanbur
Album : to be released

One of Iran's most accomplished post-revolutionary instrumentalist-composers, Kayhan Kalhor is a virtuoso on the kamancheh (a bowed spike-fiddle played in front of the musicians, on the lap or kneeling on the floor. It has a distinctive, nasal sound).

Kayhan Kalhor was born in Tehran in 1963 and began his musical studies under Master Ahmad Mohajer at the age of seven. A child prodigy on the kamancheh, at thirteen he was invited to work with the National Orchestra of Radio and Television of Iran, where he performed for five years. Kalhor was seventeen when he began working with the Shayda Ensemble of the Chavosh Cultural Center, the most prestigious arts organization in Iran at that time.

While performing with Shayda he continued studying the Iranian classical repertoire (radif) with different masters. In addition, he spent much time in different regions of Iran, including Khorasan in the northeast and Kurdistan in the west, listening to and learning from the musicians of the regions. Kalhor then spent time in Rome and Ottawa where he studied Western classical music.

He has spent much time travelling throughout Iran, studying the music of many regions. Kahor has composed works for Iran's most renowned vocalists, Mohammed Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri, and has performed with Iran's greatest masters. He has toured the world as a soloist and with his ensembles performing Persian and Indian improvisations. Most recently, he composed a piece for the Kronos Quartet. He also represented Iranian music in the first annual Chicago World Music Festival in 2001.

Kahor may be classically trained yet he has a radical approach to music making. On albums such as Night Silence Desert and Without You he spreads an extraordinarily wide net over Iran’s musical traditions, drawing together instruments, modes, and styles long since divided by cultural and generational change. On Night Silence Moon his eloquent, classical kamancheh playing blends with the traditional folk style of eighty-year-old dotar master Hadj Ghorban Soleimani and the older, established vocal style of Mohammad Reza Shajarian.

Here Kalhor consciously pins Persian classical music structures to the rich folk modes and melodies of Northern Khorasan, the cultural heart of historic Persia and a bridge to Central Asia. Kayhan Kalhor's music speaks from an ancient Persian tradition while sounding timeless and spiritually invigorating today.

Garth Cartwright 2002

A Tough Call in the Middle East: read on

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