SAHBA MOTALLEBI, Queen Of The Tar Comes to Roulette in April

The performance is on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at 8:00pm.

By: Mar. 27, 2023

SAHBA MOTALLEBI, Queen Of The Tar Comes to Roulette in April

Sahba Motallebi is recognized internationally for her exquisite performances of Persian music on the tar and setar, lute-like stringed instruments central to one of the world's great musical traditions. Known as the "Queen of the Tar" or "Jimi Hendrix, but on Tar," she has performed as a soloist and collaborated with such renowned artists as Hossein Alizadeh, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Yo-Yo Ma, and Kayhan Kalhor.

She graduated from the Tehran Conservatory of Music, and was named Best Tar Player at the Iranian Music Festival for four years running. She helped found the groundbreaking women's ensemble Chakaveh. In 1999, she was invited to join the Iranian National Orchestra, thus beginning her career as an international performer. For nearly two decades she has lived in southern California, continuing to perform worldwide. Recently she appeared on the Grammy-winning Fandango at the Wall album. In this concert, she performs a repertoire of traditional Persian music and original pieces.

Classical Persian music has been described as "an improvisatory tradition that builds from meditative melodies to dazzling virtuosity" in the New York Times. Improvisation is an essential part of any performance and the musicians draw on their experience and mastery of technique to convey emotions while adding their personal interpretations. The performance is shaped by the musicians' knowledge and the sensitivity and mood of the audience. Sahba will perform on the tar, which is known in Iran as the "king of instruments."

Sahba Motallebi captivates audiences globally with music born from centuries of Iranian tradition, interpreted through a contemporary lens, creating brand new music rooted in the past. Born in Tehran and later relocating to Sari near the Caspian Sea, she began her musical career at age 11 by learning the setar. Three years later, her talent earned her a place at the prestigious Tehran Conservatory of Music. She defied societal norms by moving to Tehran in 1992 where she lived independently and studied music despite the fact that women were not allowed to be seen carrying instruments in public. She experienced a life-altering moment when she was introduced to the tar at age 15 which led her to study with Master Fariborz Azizi and Master Ostad Hossein Alizadeh. At the Conservatory, she earned the award of Best Tar Player from 1993 - 1996. In 1999, Sahba was invited to join the Iranian National Orchestra , thus beginning her international career. She helped found the first all-female Iranian band ever called "Chakaveh" despite the rule that women were not allowed to perform without men in Iran. At the time, women weren't even allowed to perform with men in the main concert hall.

Her desire to perform and experience the world led her abroad. She went on to study in St. Petersburg, Russia and Kaseri, Turkey and received her BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in World Music, Performance and Dance (2010). Performing with artists from all over the Persian diaspora, she has masterfully woven classical Persian styling, folk and world fusion. She has been an ambassador of Persian music in the US and abroad, and captivated audiences in renowned venues and festivals, including the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, the World Festival of Sacred Music (Los Angeles), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music, and the Chicago World Music Festival. She has also toured extensively abroad in Europe, Dubai and China. To date she has recorded 10 albums and has written and published two books: Niyayesh - Six Pieces For Tar and Tolou - Pieces For Persian Orchestra. She has taught master classes at numerous universities including William and Mary College in Virginia, University of Texas - Austin, Berklee College of Music, and Pasadena State College. A musical pioneer, she is the first person to translate instructions for playing the tar and putting them on the internet in both Farsi and English.



In celebration of the 78th birthday (June 4, 1945) of Anthony Braxton—one of the most important musicians, educators, and creative thinkers of our time, as well as a mentor to EiO—Experiments in Opera presents a rare run of performances of Compositions No. 279-283, composed in 2000 for improvisational actor and improvising musicians.

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