Ensemble Shanbehzadeh

Rarely-heard rhythms, songs and dances from the ancient Iranian port of Bushehr on the Persian Gulf, a crossroads of trade where the meeting of Persian, Sufi, Arab, Indian and, most strikingly, African traditions, created a unique musical culture.


[audio:http://media.rvanews.com/FolkFestival/audio/Shanbehzadeh_TifounLaymer.mp3|artists=Ensemble Shanbehzadeh|titles=Tifoun Laymer]
  • Bushehri Music & Dance of Iran
  • Paris, France

From the Dean’s Desk »

From Bushehr in southern Iran — and before that, east Africa — originates the music that Saeid Shanbehzadeh and son Naghib practice around the world, whether in performance or political rally. The reedy sound of the goatskin bagpipe may be your prime focus, but listen for rhythms in the percussion from which reggaeton and other contemporary danceable beats could be derived.

Professional bio

Perched on the edge of the Persian Gulf in southwestern Iran is the ancient port city of Bushehr. For centuries, it has been a crossroads of trade and culture where Persian, Sufi, Arab, Indian and most strikingly, African, musical traditions have blended to create a unique musical culture. Led by the amazing Saeid Shanbezadeh, this ensemble brings the trance-inducing rhythms, songs and dances of Bushehr to Richmond, offering a rare glimpse of a fascinating, little-known musical tradition from the Persian Gulf.

Acknowledged as one of the Bushehr’s finest musicians and musical scholars, Saeid Shanbehzadeh is a master of the neyanban (double-reed bagpipe). Studying under the old masters of Bushehr, he began at age seven to learn the wedding music, love songs, and religious pieces common in the province. He first mastered percussion and singing, then the double flute, the neyanban and traditional dance. Swirling across the stage, falling into trance, and throwing the pipes on top of his head, Shanbehzadeh’s dynamic performances inexorably draw audiences into his musical world. Now living in France, he has become a voice of the Persian community there, speaking out against the current Iranian regime and drawing its ire for his refusal to keep silent.

Banning Eyre, host of National Public Radio’s “Afropop Worldwide” described a recent, rare U.S. performance by Ensemble Shanbehzadeh as “a mesmerizing set of what may be called the hidden Afro-Persian tradition…transfixing.” Saeid will be joined by his gifted teenaged son, Naghid, on the tombak (Persian goblet drum) and Habib Meftah Boushehri on various other percussion instruments.

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