Kamkars | Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, Elmhurst College | International | Chicago Reader

Kamkars All Ages Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., March 6, 8:30 p.m. 2009

Formed in Iran in 1965 by the late violin legend Hassan Kamkar, the Kamkars are one of the world’s greatest family bands. Though they’re masters of Iranian classical music, they’re probably best known as the preeminent exponents of Kurdish folk, preserving and polishing songs from its vast repertoire. I’ve never seen them live, but on their recordings they summon both bracing sorrow and surprising ebullience with their radiant sound, creating driving unison patterns and occasional kaleidoscopic counterpoint with a dense tangle of instruments: oud, santur (hammer dulcimer), tar and setar (varieties of lute), kamanche and ghaychak (types of fiddle), and hand percussion. Bijan Kamkar, who plays a frame drum called the daf, provides a natural point of focus with his powerful vocals, but given the group’s deep pool of talent—it usually tours with six to eight musicians—you can train your ears on anyone in the lineup without getting bored. —Peter Margasak

Price: $45-$55

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