Date: April 20, 2012
Venue: Town Hall (NY)
Text by Aida Shahghasemi
A few weeks after his son, Homayoun (read review here), Mohammad Reza Shajarian and the Shahnaz Ensemble gave a concert at Town Hall last month which portrayed creativity and innovation within the realm of Persian classical music.
As one of the best internationally known Persian classical vocalists, Mohammad Reza Shajarian began his career at an early age through Radio Khorasan. Born in 1940, he learned how to use his voice from doing Koran recitations with his father from the age of five, and in 1959, he was invited by Radio Khorasan to have a regular presence. He studied the vocal repertoire (Radif), from a number of prominent individuals, including Faramarz Payvar. His style of singing has inspirations from numerous individuals from previous generations such as Reza Gholi Mirza, Ghamarolmoluk e Vaziri, Taj Esfahani, and Eghbal Azar. He rose to fame quickly as his voice carried a speciality that touched any heart. Strongly embedded in Persian poetry, his performances have always carried a strong message. It is also important to point out that he has had a strong effect in presenting contemporary poetry through Persian classical music. The record, Jam e Tohi, was critically acclaimed as it successfully merged classical music and the words of Fereidoun Moshiri, a dearly loved friend of Mohammad Reza Shajarian, and a contemporary poet.
Mohammad Reza Shajarian also contributed to the research and propagation of Iranian regional music. Within the evolution of Persian classical music, he has also had a share in rethinking the structures of instruments, the results of which can be seen in his current ensemble.
(As a reference how Shajarian sounded at Town Hall, please watch the below video which shows a performance of Shajarian at the Royal Festival Hall in London.)
shahbang, the contra bass of the sorahi family, played by Sepideh Khodavardi,
shahrashoub, similar to the sorahi with a smaller sound box. This instrument also comes in four sound ranges of soprano, alto, bass, and contra bass. The alto was played by Mehrdad Nasehi,
shahnavaz, similar to the sorahi and shahrashoub, played by Hamed Afshari,
saboo, a bowed instrument similar to the violin with the capability to be played in two positions: similar to the violin or upright resting between the knees, played by Kaveh Motamedian.
The rest of the instruments and ensemble members included:
santur, Ramin Safaie
ney, Shahou Andalibi
setar and vocals, Mojgan Shajarian
tar, Radman Tavakoli
ghanoun, Sahar Ebrahim
tombak, Hamid Ghanbari
kamancheh, Saman Samimi
daf and dayereh, Hossein Rezaie Nia
Of course, there was also composer, musical arranger, orchestral leader, and tar player: Majid Derakhshani.