Homayoun Shajarian & Hesar Ensemble All Ages Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., Feb. 23, 8 p.m. 2012

Homayoun Shajarian, son of the great Iranian classical singer Mohammed Reza Shajarian, made his Chicago debut in 2005 as a junior member of his father's all-star group, Masters of Persian Music, and since then he seems to have taken up his old man's mantle. He's been back regularly, leading distinguished groups such as the Dastan Ensemble, and on this visit he performs with a phenomenal group of young players collectively known as the Hesar Ensemble, most of whom were born after the Islamic Revolution; they're led by composer Ali Ghamsari, who's also a virtuoso on a type of lute called the tar. In 2010 Shajarian and Ghamsari collaborated on Ab Nan Avaz, a gorgeous collection of Ghamsari's work, which like most contemporary Persian classical music consists of settings for ancient and modern poetry. The Hesar Ensemble has a more progressive bent than most Iranian groups, experimenting with Western classical and flamenco—an extended version of the group includes flamenco-­style guitar, cello, and violin, all instruments alien to Persian tradition. The harmonically austere, melodically rich arrangements, sometimes thickened by double stops on the violin and cello or embellished by independent lines that break from the generally unison playing, amplify the soaring passion in Shajarian's crystalline voice—which, when the music reaches its most fevered pitch, breaks into astonishing melismata. —Peter Margasak

Price: $45-$60

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