Trained by Asadollah Malek, Farhad Harati, Majid Derakhshani, and Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Hamed Afshari is considered one of Iran's finest gheychak players at the present time. A member of Shahnaz Ensemble touring with Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Majid Derakhshani since 2007 and Khorshid Ensemble with Majid Derakhshani since 2005, is a testament to his musical talent and his impressive qualifications. He is also one of founders of "Chargan Ensemble", first Persian string quartet.
Pezhham Akhavass is a percussionist / multi instrumentalist / music director, master of Tombak (a type of goblet drum from Persia) and Daf (the frame drum). In addition to tombak and daf, Pezhham is knowledgeable about setar, tanbour, and oud, and has studied other percussion instruments including Indian tabla (with the guidance of Ostad Zakir Hussain), kanjira, and gatam.
Pezhham was born in 1980 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in music from Sureh University of Tehran. With the support of his father, renowned artist Mostafa, Pezhham began studying the tombak at the age of five with the guidance of Ostad Naser Farhanghfar. From 1989-1991, he continued studying tombak with Mr. Saeid Roudbary. Pezhham developed a very unique ability to grasp the technicalities of the tombak and bring a new approach to rhythm. His unique approach has resulted in Pezhham being termed one of the most distinguished musicians of his generation.
Pezhham has toured, performed, and recorded with some of the masters in Persian music including Shahram Nazeri, Hossein Alizadeh, Aliakbar Moradi, Saeid Farajpouri, Hosein Yousefzamani, Hosein Omoumi, and Masoud Shoari. In 2014, Pezhham became a Global Music Director of the San Francisco World Music Festival for Iran.
Today, Pezhham resides in San Francisco, California, where he teaches private lessons in tombak, daf, and setar. Pezhham is working on different productions and projects, giving lectures on and performances of Persian music, and directing his production company Akhavass Productions.
For more information, visit his website.
Mehdi Bagheri is a composer and multi-instrumentalist born in Kermanshah, Iran. His earliest musical endeavors included study of several traditional Iranian instruments, before selecting the kamanche as his primary instrument. He studied extensively under Maestros Kayhan Kalhor and Ardeshir Kamkar. In the early 2000s, he recorded and published the radif (traditional melodic techniques passed down orally from master to student across generations) of the legendary Maestro Aliakbar Khan Shahnazi. Mehdi has performed worldwide at festivals such as the Morgenland Festival, Théâtre de la Ville, and the Oslo World Music Festival, as well as appearing on joint concert with the Berlin Radio Choir, featuring performances of his works in the RBB Hall. In Iran and abroad, Mehdi has been dynamically pursuing his work in different fields such as music in film, eclectic music, and Iranian classical music. He has also published a variety of works with a great number of musicians.
When he was a senior in high school, Will Clift’s physics teacher challenged the class to find or make an object that “balances but looks like it shouldn’t.” The next morning before class he found three scraps of wood, chiseled two rough holes, and connected them into a self-supporting structure that stood on a small foot. That was the seed out of which his current work grew.
He completed two degrees at Stanford that combined engineering, business, psychology and design, but never formally studied art. His real passion was finding the connections between disciplines, a love that he has returned to with this collaboration. His time at Stanford included six months in Japan, a country he fell deeply in love with.
He became a full-time sculptor in 2006, at first mostly working in wood and bronze. Since then he’s developed and refined a novel technique using carbon fiber composite to create delicate, large-scale sculptures. His career has brought him to four continents for exhibitions and commissions, and he will return to Japan this Autumn. In 2016 he was invited back to Stanford as Visiting Artist, during which time he undertook several collaborations with departments ranging from Materials Science to Civil & Environmental Engineering, as well as the collaboration with Diane Frank and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski that resulted in “In A Winter Garden.”
For more information, visit his website.
Sahar directs the dance project "WHIRL quantum cosmic dance". Originally from Iran, she moved to Paris where she began her artistic studies in dance, music and drama. She then studied Kathak Indian classical dance under Master Pandit Chitresh Das, in India and in the U.S. She was trained by Ariane Mnouchkine at the renowned Théâtre du Soleil in Paris as a performer intern, and was also trained by dancer/choreographer Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam from the Comédie Française, whom she has toured with internationally since 2007. She was Macha Makeieff's lead dancer for two years, including a tour at the Théâtre de Chaillot in Paris as the lead soloist dancer.
She has also been lead dancer and actress for the opening of the Asian Olympic Games for the Rimsky Korsakov "Scheherazade", and a dancer soloist in the French opera "Cleopatra" directed by Lawrence Foster.
Sahar also won a French grant to do continued professional training with contemporary dance director Véronique Larcher.
As a choreographer she has created 17 shows so far.
For more information, visit her website.
Hong Ding graduated from the Dalian School of Art in 1984. She then started performing in the Dalian Peking Opera House in 1985 and has been honored as the national second level performer of China. She is from a prestigious Chinese opera family, so she naturally had a wonderful opportunity to be taught and nurtured by her mother in the ways of opera from her youth. She specializes in the Mei School of theatre, playing in the roles of Qingyi, Huashan, Jianlima, and performing in such drama productions such as The Drunken Beauty, The Song of the Pear Blossoms, Farewell my Concubine, Legendary Amazons, The Fisherman's Revenge, and The Fourth Son Visits His Mother, as well as many others. She has gone to over 20 European nations to represent her country by performing dramas belonging to the Mei School of theatre and is a celebrated actress, singer, and master of ceremonies.
Diane Frank has enjoyed a long career as a professional choreographer, dancer, and teaching artist. She has received numerous NEA fellowship grants and awards for her choreography which has been produced by noted venues in New York, London, Paris, Washington, DC, and San Francisco. She trained extensively with Merce Cunningham, drawn to both the aesthetic sensibilities and radical beauty of his work. She was member of the Cunningham Studio teaching staff for many years. She also danced with Douglas Dunn & Dancers for eleven years, touring domestically and abroad. At Stanford since 1987, she continues to train and mentor a long line of Stanford dance professionals. In 2012, her choreography (performed by Stanford dancers) was selected by the American College Dance Association for the National Gala performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“In A Winter Garden” deepens Frank’s ongoing fascination with nature, impermanence of dance as a form, and human responsiveness to the particulars of environment.
Xiru Fu is one of the excellent young “Old Sheng” actors, who graduated from Shanghai Peking Opera College. He learned from many famous teachers and is one of the most important young actors in the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe.
Xiru Fu is very talented, with a strong appearance, clear, wide voice, and well-trained singing. His teachers’ instruction and his own hard works helped him build a very strong professional foundation. His performing is skillful and especially expresses his characters’ mentality and emotions. He can perform both civil and martial roles very well, continually pursuing a higher level of achievement. The famous martial plays he has performed are Tiao Hua Che, Spy Fu Mountain at Night, Revenge of An Arrow, Tie Long Mountain, Tian Ba Bai Shan, and Old Man plays such as the Story of Wu Peng. He got an award in the first China Drama Red Plum Fair held by the China Drama Association in 2003, and was first place out of all the participating professional actors.
Ms. Manhua Gao is a soprano of critical acclaim throughout the world, with her extraordinary artistry, intelligence, and musicality. Her charming, clear voice and wide voice range, strong expressiveness, and artistic appeal have won the hearts of numerous audiences the world over. Ms. Gao has performed more than thirty leading roles with many opera companies in the world. As a soloist, she has performed with many major symphony orchestras and leading musicians across the globe. She is praised as an “excellent musician” with "spot-on technique and tone”. Ms. Gao graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Boston University. She is the recipient of numerous accolades and awards, including first prize in the Beijing National Voice Competition, the Benard Poetz Memorial Award, and the coveted Schwabacher Award. She was presented with the Shanghai ‘White Magnolia’ Award for Lead Performer in the Theatre and Performing Arts and the Grand Wenhua Award for Individual Performance, which are the highest accolades for performing arts presented by the Chinese Ministry of Culture.
Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam
Renowned as a director, choreographer, dancer, actor, costume designer, Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam has performed all over the world connecting the ancient world of Persian literature to the contemporary world, as well as exploring modern Iranian poetry. Graduating from the University of Paris VIII with a degree in history of art and theatre, he achieved tenure as a "pensionnaire de la Comédie-Française", the highest level an actor can reach in France.
Shahrokh deserted his mother land in his teenage years for France. In the late 90’s he joined the prestigious French theatre director Ariane Mnouchkine’s Théâtre du Soleil where he received training on the fundamentals of theatrical dance, spanning both the East and the West, such as Indian “Kathakali”, Indonesian “Topeng”, Japanese “Kabuki”, Persian "Sufi", and Spanish "Flamenco".
He has had numerous worldwide performances, such as his collaboration as main actor in productions of "Tartuffe", “La Ville Parjure", and "des Atrides”, his solo dance at international festivals such as Festival de Meridas, Festival d'Asturias, Festival de Chartres, and many others.
In the late 90’s, he established the Nakissa Dance Company and has performed many of his creations with this company worldwide, including “A Persian Night's Dream”, “The Route of Orient”, “Nostalgia or Ghassedak”, “The Seven Pavilion of Love” (Haft Peykar), “Omar Khayam,” “Les Danses Mythologiques,” “Mani the Bouddha of Light,” and “Rumi Le brûlé“. His recent work includes “Love Stories of Shahnameh” based on epic poems from the Ferdowsi’s “Shahnameh – Book of Kings”, "Zohreh & Manoucher" and "Aref-Nameh," based upon the provocative early 19th century masterpieces of Persian literature by Iraj Mirza, and "Scarlet Stone" by Siavash Kasrai.
Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam now resides in Northern California, where he continues to create dance performances and plays, and conducts Persian poetry masterclasses and events. He will be collaborating this year with Sahar Dehghan in her new project "WHIRL Quantum Cosmic Dance".
Pejman Hadadi is considered one of the most innovative Iranian percussionists. A two-time recipient of the prestigious Durfee Foundation Master Musician Award, he is the founder of Neyreez World Music Institute in Southern California. He began playing tombak at the age of ten with master musicians Asadollah Hejazi and Bahman Rajabi. Pejman Hadadi’s modern approach to the traditional tombak lies in his ability to produce melodic patterns within rhythmic structures, as well as in his experiments with creating complex variations on the basic sounds of tombak. He has been a member of the celebrated DASTAN Ensemble for more than ten years and was one of the founding members of the highly acclaimed ZARBANG. Hadadi has also recorded and performed with many well-known musicians including Hossein Alizadeh, Shahram Nazeri, Homayoun Shajarian, Parissa, Hossein Omoumi, Sima Bina, Ali Akbar Moradi, Ardeshir Kamkar and many others.
Hadadi has created and assembled a unique set of tunable frame drums, which has contributed a new dimension to the rhythm section of Iranian music. These particular drums generate a special tone and texture, in addition to creating harmonic intervals because of the fact that they are tunable. And it enables the musician to play and compose rhythmic patterns with a melodic feel.
Pejman has toured extensively in North America, Europe, Iran, and Japan, performing in major international festivals and prestigious concert halls. Some of his recordings include Passage To Dawn (2011), Sound Of My Soul (2011), Call To Love (2008), Monad (2008), Persian and Middle Eastern Percussion (2005), Golestan (2005), Gol-e Behesht (2005), Shurideh (2004), Rengineh (2004), Journey To Persia (2002), Whisper (2001), Midnight Sun (2000), Fire of Passion (1999), A Tale of Love (1999) and Through Eternity (1997).
Ko Ishikawa is a Sho (Japanese bamboo mouth organ) player who studied Japanese traditional Gagaku music under his masters Mayumi Miyata, Hideaki Bunno, and Sukeyasu Shiba. A performer of Gagaku music as well as contemporary and experimental music, he is widely acclaimed on the national and international scenes. Ko Ishikawa has performed with Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, Otomo Yoshihide's FEN Orchestra, and Multiple Tap. Selected performances include Jazz em Agosto (Lisbon), Soundfield (Philadelphia / New York), Miji + Multiple Tap (Beijing), Cha'ak'ab Paaxil (Mexico), and Festival Hue (Vietnam).
Jarosław Kapuściński is an intermedia composer and pianist whose work has been presented at New York MOMA; ZKM in Karlsruhe; Centre Pompidou in Paris; and Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, among others. He has received awards at the UNESCO Film sur l'Art festival in Paris, VideoArt Festival Locarno, and FNCNM in Montréal. He was first trained as a pianist and composer at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw and expanded into multimedia during studies at the University of California, San Diego (1992-1997). Currently, he is Associate Professor of composition and intermedia and Chair of the Music Department at Stanford University.
Photo credit: Andrew Zhang
Kourosh Moradi was born in Kermanshah, Iran. He is the second son of the great master of tanbour Aliakbar Moradi. He started studying tanbour at an early age with his father. In addition to tanbour, Kourosh has studied daf with masters of the Yarsan order and tombak with Master Hamid Moghadam while growing up in Kurdistan. Coming from a musical family, Kourosh has recorded and performed around the world, continuing the family legacy of tanbour with many esteemed masters of Kurdish/Iranian music. He has become an ambassador of music in the United States as he now lives and teaches in Southern California, continuing the family legacy and the deep-rooted history of this ancient music and sharing it with new audiences from around the world. He continues to perform in conjunction with his father and continues the family legacy of sharing music with audiences around the world.
Nao Nishihara (b. 1976 in Hiroshima) is an active practitioner of sound art, recording, performance, and instrument production. Inspired by dadaism and classical music of Japan he is known for building movement-animated, half-autonomous sound machines that explore the bodily aspect of creating and performing music in space. Based in Tokyo, his recent solo and group exhibitions include Mori Art Museum Tokyo, IDIO Soundlab in New York, Kunstraum Kreuzberg Bethanien in Berlin and Sound Art Exhibition, Busan. He also performed at Issue Project Room NY, Student Kultural Center Belgrade, Avant Art Festival Wroclaw, Knockdown Center, NY; Super Delux, Tokyo; Experimental Intermedia, NY; Queens Museum, NY; Judson Memorial Church, NY; and THAV, Taipei. Engaged in the promotion of sound art and music he was a co-translator into Japanese of articles and books including Sound Art by Alan Licht and A Brief History of Music by H.U. Obrist.
Photo credit: Cameron Kelly Courtesy ISSUE Project Room
Amir Nojan is a virtuoso setar (small unfretted Persian lute) player based in California for the past six years. Born in Shiraz, Iran, he studied with some of the modern masters of traditional Persian music including Dariush Tala'i, Mohammad Reza Lotfi, and Jalal Zolfanoun.
He has performed many concerts in Iran, Europe, and America as a composer, soloist, improviser, and ensemble player. Amir Nojan has collaborated with renowned musicians such as Alim Qasimov and Shahram Nazeri at Stanford University.
Amir founded the first professional academy for the teaching of Persian music and arts named "Shiraz Arts Academy" in Northern California (San Jose).
For more information, visit his website.
Mojgan Shajarian is an Iranian musician, painter, and graphic designer. Mojgan holds a BA in Music from Honar University in Iran and a BA in Painting and a MA in Graphic Design from Azad University in Iran. She has studied under distinguished Iranian musicians and performed in more than 60 concerts around the world with the acclaimed Iranian master musician (her father), Maestro Mohammad Reza Shajarian and the Shahnaz ensemble. In addition to receiving awards and high marks for her musical talents, she paints and researches the relationship between art and music. She is also a master in Persian calligraphy. Mojgan currently lives in Southern California where she teaches Persian classical singing (Awaz) and Setar to her students.
Bass-baritone Shenyang is recognized as the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World as well as 2010 winner of the Montblanc New Voices at Stars of the White Nights Festival and as 2008 winner of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. He is also a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music
Born in Tianjin, China, Shenyang studied with Professor Ping Gu at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He is an alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and of The Julliard School Opera Center. He has received master classes with James Levine, José Van Dam, John Fisher, Carlo Bergonzi, Renata Scotto, Sir Thomas Allen, Håkan Hagegård, Christa Ludwig, Barbara Bonney, Malcolm Martineau, Stephen Wadsworth, and Renée Fleming.
Shenyang embodies a 21st century bridge between the cultures of East and West. His celebration of the human voice was spotlighted as Artist in Residence of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in 2011-12 in numerous programs conducted by Long Yu with repertoire ranging from Bach and Mozart to Rachmaninov and Mahler. He joined Daniel Harding and the China Philharmonic for selections from Mahler’s Des knaben Wunderhorn at the opening weekend of the Beijing Music Festival and was presented in solo recital at the Festival in a program of Schubert, Loewe, and Mahler.
Runyin Zhang was born in An Hui, China in 1993. He started taking violin lessons at the age of four. In 2002, Zhang studied under Song Yang, a professor from the high school attached to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 2003, Zhang was accepted into the elementary school attached to Shanghai Conservatory of Music after achieving the highest score in the entrance examination. Zhang continued his studies at the high school attached to Shanghai Conservatory of Music and studied under the well-known violinists and professors Zheng Shi Sheng, Zhou Bin You and Zheng Qing. In 2012, Zhang was allowed exemption from the entrance examination for a Bachelor Degree from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and was given a full scholarship because of his outstanding results. Now he is studying under violinist and educator Tsu Vera Wei Ling.
Being the best student in the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Zhang was recommended for and participated in the International Violin Masterclass of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and performed at the Outstanding Students Concert. He also attended a summer camp in the same year and was not only given high praise by all the violin masters of the camp, but was also elected as the Most Outstanding Participant. In 2011, he represented the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in Shen Yang, China to participate in the Music Interflows Programme of the 9 Best Music Conservatories in China.
During his time in the conservatory, Runyin Zhang was actively involved in solo performances. In 2012, he was invited to perform at The Resonance of Golden Bell, the concert of the winners of the 8th National Golden Bell Award Violin Competition, as well as the Joint Broadcast Concert in Taipei. In 2012 and 2013, he held numerous solo concerts at Shanghai Concert Hall in conjunction with the Afternoon Tea Programme. In January 2013, Zhang was invited to perform at The Sound of Yangtze River Concert. In September 2013, he collaborated with Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, and had his own concert held at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center. He also participated in the Beethoven Concert held at Shanghai Concert Hall in June 2014. Zhang has performed with many great conductors such as Maestro Mark Stringer, Wang Jia Yang, Yang Yang, Lin Da Ye, Xu Zhi Jun, and Zhao Xiao Ou.
Runyin Zhang is not only an exceptional soloist, he also has many experiences playing in an orchestra. He is the Concert Master of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music’s orchestra. From 2006 to the present, Zhang has taken master classes with many distinguished violin masters such as Pinchas Zukermann, Shlomo Mintz, Midori, Donald Weilerstein, Lewis Kaplan, Hu Kun, Lin Zhao Liang, and Ning Feng.
Zagros Trio Ensemble
The Zagros Trio Ensemble has been performing around the globe over the past seven years. Kourosh Moradi, Mehdi Bagheri, and Pezhham Akhavass are the founders of the Zagros Trio. They all started their music education at an early age with different backgrounds. All three are considered the best in their respective musical fields. The group started performing as a band in late 2010, and has since introduced rich Persian and Kurdish music traditions to people who are curious about ancient melodies and rhythms from different culture and nations. Zagros Trio Ensemble has mainly performed with just four instruments, which are: tanbour, kamancheh, tombak, and daf. These instruments are considered as the oldest musical instruments in mankind’s history. The music of Zagros Trio Ensemble is a combination of tanbour Maqams and Persian classical music to create a well-established foundation with a newer sound. The mission of this ensemble is to connect with people from all cultures, races, and backgrounds.
Stanford Chinese Music Ensemble
The Stanford Chinese Music Ensemble (SCME) is Stanford's only official student group committed to playing a variety of traditional Chinese instruments and music. Recently founded in October 2011, the ensemble has already performed at various cultural and musical events, including the Stanford Chinese New Year Gala and the Pan-Asian Music Festival hosted by Stanford University. Conducted by Professor Jindong Cai, SCME strives to promote cultural exchange and awareness about Chinese culture and to expand artistic creativity at Stanford by introducing students and faculty to a unique style of music.
For more information, visit their website.
Symphony Silicon Valley
Founded in 2002, Symphony Silicon Valley has progressed from daring idea to exciting reality, rapidly becoming the greater South Bay's premiere orchestra and a notable community success story. The Symphony's artists, nationally recruited, locally resident, with an average performance tenure in San Jose of over 20 years, are recognized as among the best in the greater Bay Area. Led by an exciting roster of distinguished guest conductors on the European model, the Symphony is an anchor tenant of San Jose's magnificently restored downtown California Theatre, one of Northern California's most outstanding music halls. There, audiences and critics alike greet its concerts with enthusiasm.
In addition to its regular subscription concerts, the Symphony produces free outreach programs for thousands of our community's children each season. It accompanies many Ballet San Jose performances, and performs for other community events that range from San Jose State University's recent 150th Anniversary Gala Concert to concerts of music and visuals from popular video games.
The United Chorus ensemble was created by the Pacific Arts and Culture Exchange, originally for the 2015 debut of a symphonic Cantata in California, with several acclaimed performances. The chorale has more than 100 members including vocal artists and enthusiasts from the Silicon Valley community, with many having professional training and experience. United Chorus is conducted by Professor Jindong Cai of Stanford University. Soprano Chunxia Ma serves as vocal director, and piano accompanist is Xuexiao Zhang.
Jindong Cai - PAMF Artistic Director
Jindong Cai joined the Stanford University faculty in 2004 as the first holder of the Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies' Chair and Associate Professor of Music in Performance. He is currently an Associate Professor at the Stanford Center for East Asian Studies, and Conductor of the Stanford Chinese Music Ensemble. He is also the Artistic Director of the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival, which he founded in 2005. Maestro Cai serves as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in China, and of the Mongolia State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet in Ulan Batar.
Before coming to Stanford, Professor Cai served on the faculties at the Louisiana State University, the University of Arizona, the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and the University of California at Berkeley. He held assistant conducting positions with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
Born in Beijing, Mr. Cai received his early musical training in China, where he learned to play the violin and the piano. He came to the United States for his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. In 1989, he was selected to study with famed conductor Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Center, and won the Conducting Fellowship Award at the Aspen Music Festival in 1990 and 1992.
Together with Sheila Melvin, Mr. Cai has co-authored several New York Times articles on the performing arts in China and two books: Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese and Beethoven in China. The former was reviewed by The China Quarterly of Cambridge Journals, as “a delightful book. It opens up a cultural arena much neglected in scholarship on China.”