Link TV feature – Kayhan Kalhor: Songs of Hope

Posted by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Filmed in Karaj, Iran and New York City, “Songs of Hope” explores the life and music of Kayhan Kalhor, a master of the kamancheh, or Persian spike fiddle.

The love he showed for the instrument as a child led him to the life as a prodigy who left Iran in 1981 after the 1979 Islamic Revolution so he could continue his musical studies. He is renowned as a soloist and composer and as a founder and member of several ensembles, including Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, with which we see him rehearsing one of his compositions in the film. In 1997 he returned to Iran to renew his connections to his homeland and to teach a new generation of musicians, while establishing a life with his wife. His existence was that of a prolific, peaceful, globetrotting musician.

Iran’s June 2009 election shocked and invigorated the nation and the world, and Kayhan believed in the will of his people.

The film ends with an impassioned performance he gave in NY in September 2009 entitled “Songs of Hope,” which he dedicated to the people of Iran.

About the film
Opportunity knocked on our door when we learned that Kayhan Kalhor was going to be in town performing with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. We were able to not only interview Kayhan, but to videotape a rehearsal with the ensemble and to capture the warm interactions between him, Yo-Yo Ma, and the rest of the players. Fast forward a few months and our efforts to get footage of Kayhan at home in Iran became entangled with the political events unfolding there. We were again fortunate that Link has relationships with Iranian filmmakers, and with the help of Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri, we were able to capture the vivid scenes of Kayhan at home, teaching and cooking with his wife.

-Michal Shapiro, Director of Music Programming


Producer/Director: Steven Lawrence
Editor: Gloria Bremer
Coordinating Producer: Maria Luisa Gambale
Associate Producer: Michal Shapiro
Assistant Editor: Gabriella Kessler
Field Producer (Iran): Abbas Amini
Production Coordinator (Iran): Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri
Camera (NY): Manfred Reiff, Joshua Atesh Litle, Maria Luisa Gambale
Camera (Iran): Morteza Hodai, Payam Azizi
Sound (NY): Mark Maloof
Sound (Iran): Vahid Hajilooi

Read more about Kayhan’s  October 3, 2009 NY Songs For Hope performance

Read more about Kayhan and The Masters of Persian Music ensemble’s concert review

Other Kayhan Kalhor videos

Kayhan’s inspiration: Ostad Ali Asghar Bahari