Kayhan Kalhor is one of the great young composers and instrumentalists working in the Persian classical tradition today. He has composed for and performed with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, and was a founding member of the groundbreaking Persian/Indian group Ghazal with sitarist Shujaat Khan. He left Iran at the age of 17 when the Islamic Revolution closed all the universities and he was unable to continue his musical studies. He studied music in Italy and Canada before moving to the U.S., living in Brooklyn until his return to Tehran five year ago.
Kalhor has also recorded and toured with Masters of Persian Music, a "super-group" of Iranian classical musicians, whose   CDs on World Village were twice nominated for Grammy awards. He has also recorded with fellow Kurdish musician Ali Akbar Moradi and the Turkish virtuoso Erdal Ercincan. He recently worked with Osvaldo Golijov on the soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola's film “Youth Without Youth.”
Kalhor's new recording Silent City (released Sept 9 on World Village) is a collaboration with the young American string quartet Brooklyn Rider. Through its interweaving of folk and classical repertoire, the CD expands both Persian and Western traditions. Its title track is an elegy to the Iraqi city of Halabja, the Kurdish enclave that Saddam Hussein attacked with chemical weapons exactly ten years ago.
From high mountain ranges to vast desert plains and fertile coastal areas, Iran is a land of contrasts. Iranians often explain the profound spirituality of their music and poetry as a response to this landscape as well as to the country’s turbulent history. Rooted in a rich and ancient heritage, this is music of contemplation and meditation linked through the poetry to Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam whose members seek spiritual union with God. The aesthetic beauty of this complex, refined and intensely personal music lies in the intricate nuances of the freely flowing solo melody lines that are often compared with the elaborate designs found on Persian carpets and miniature pai