Art And Culture

Exuberant Rapid-Fire Performance by Kayhan Kalhor

Exuberant Rapid-Fire Performance by Kayhan Kalhor Exuberant Rapid-Fire Performance by Kayhan Kalhor

As part of his world tour, prominent Iranian traditional musician Kayhan Kalhor recently held a duet performance with Ali Bahrami-Fard in London’s Kings Place. The instrumental piece lasting more than an hour created an intense, memorable set from one of Iran’s greatest musicians.

The Guardian reviewed the performance, excerpts of which are below:

“They never spoke, they were playing instruments that are little known to British audiences, and they only performed one instrumental piece, which lasted for more than an hour. But this was an intense, memorable and almost exhaustingly emotional set,” said the British newspaper.

Kayhan Kalhor is one of Iran’s greatest musicians, an exponent of the kamancheh “spike fiddle”, and he was joined by Ali Bahrami-Fard on the bass santur – a hammered dulcimer – for their latest version of ‘I Will Not Stand Alone’, a largely improvised piece.

The duo performed, kneeling, on a low platform covered in an exquisite Persian carpet. The piece began with a sad, sturdy theme from the santur and then the brooding, mournful kamancheh joined in, first plucked, then bowed. From then on, the music, and mood, constantly changed.

There were patches of unexpected silence, followed by sudden, furious fiddle lines and improvisation in which Kalhor played “with his eyes shut, grey hair flopping over his face.” Then the mood altered again, with exuberant, rapid-fire playing as the two musicians swapped solos almost by intuition. This was followed by yet another switch, to a more lyrical and gentle passage, before this extraordinary piece reached an upbeat and defiantly cheerful conclusion.