Kayhan Kalhor and the Persian kamancheh at Tully Scope

Kayhan Kalhor playing the Persian kamancheh

Yeah, I know–technically it’s Brooklyn Rider and Kayhan Kalhor at Tully Scope, but even the Lincoln Center website lists Kayhan Kalhor first.  But after a slightly negative review of Brooklyn Rider at the Washington Post, maybe it’s better this way as Evan Tucker only had great things to say about Kalhor:

Brooklyn Rider also performed four pieces that its violinist Colin Jacobsen wrote or arranged to include the legendary Iranian musician Kayhan Kalhor. After mere seconds from Kalhor’s kamancheh – an Iranian viol- one realized what Brooklyn Rider lacks. The moment Kalhor’s bow crossed the strings, the synagogue was transformed from a trendy venue into a musical shrine. Whenever Kalhor was spotlighted, Jacobsen’s music changed from ethno-kitsch to profound rumination.

Midway through the concert, Kalhor gave as extraordinary an improvisation as any music lover could wish to hear. All it took was one instrument, one man, and one melody extracted from one chord to uncover thousands of possibilities constructed from simple means.

A musician this brilliant should not have to play second fiddle – or, in this case, second kamancheh. Asking Kayhan Kalhor to play with Brooklyn Rider is like asking W.C. Handy to play with Blues Traveler. Both Brooklyn Rider and Blues Traveler are enjoyable groups that popularize great musical traditions. One immediately hears how distant their music is from greatness, however, when confronted with the real thing.

I really wish I could see this though–if only because of Kayhan Kalhor (for more info about him and the history of the kamancheh, please read one of my previous posts about the origins of bowed string playing here.

Tully Scope itself sounds like a wonderfully eclectic music festival that’s happening at one of the stalwarts of classical music concerts, the Lincoln Center.  I first heard about the festival through one of Eric Edberg’s posts and a wonderful review he gave of Les Percussions de Strasbourg he saw last Saturday performing works by Greek Composer, Iannis Xenakis (I’ll definitely post about this guy in the future).

The concert is tonight and the details follow

WED, MAR 9 AT 7:30


Kayhan Kalhor, kamancheh; Brooklyn Rider;
Shawn Conley, bass; Shane Shanahan, percussion

Kayhan Kalhor is a master of Persian music, playing the fiddle-like kamancheh, an instrument known for a warm, almost human voice. Brooklyn Rider astounds audiences with its fresh, adventurous redefinition of the string quartet. The result of their collaboration is a shimmering sound that defies classification, far beyond a simple blending of cultures. This performance features several new works, including a solo improvisation by Kalhor and a world premiere by Philip Glass.

SOLLIMA: Federico II, from Viaggio in Italia
GLASS: Suite for String Quartet from Bent (world premiere)
JACOBSEN: Beloved, do not let me be discouraged; Atashgah (New York premiere)
KALHOR: Solo improvisation
TRAD. (arr. Jacobsen and Aghaei): Ascending Bird
Download the program notes for this performance

“This is some of the most vibrant music I’ve heard this year, of any genre…[a] stunning world-music summit meeting.” —Strings magazine


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