Kayhan Kalhor (front) with the Brooklyn Rider quartet. Photo: Amber Darragh (from Kalhor’s website).
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Kayhan Kalhor, who has mesmerized his way to four Grammy nominations with hypnotic renditions of Persian and Kurdish compositions on the traditional kamanche, has vowed never to perform in his native Iran “as long as art and culture are held hostage.”
The virtuoso, who comes from an Iranian-Kurdish family and recognized as the world’s foremost player of the spike-fiddle kamanche, said it was the end for performances in his native land, after authorities refused permission for a concert by Kalhor and the Brooklyn Rider ensemble.
He told the BBC’s Persian service that audiences in Iran would not see him, “As long as art and culture are held hostage in Iran over the hoarding and display of power by the political factions; as long as there is no line or limit defined for these (political) activities, I will refuse to take part in any activity in Iran.” he said.
Kalhor is not the only musician who has fallen victim to Iran’s political tug-of-war, which has intensified over reports that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is ill: there is speculation he has cancer.
At the last minute – after tickets were sold – authorities revoked permission for a concert in Tehran by Parvaz Homayi, a composer and singer of classical Persian music who was due for his first performance in Iran in eight years.
“This concert has been cancelled until further notice by order of the honorable head of the judiciary,” the organizers said in a note to fans who had bought tickets.
Another report on Wednesday said that a concert in Iran’s Rasht province had been cancelled for the second time.
Kalhor said his shows would not be repeated: “The concerts will not be performed again,” the BBC report quoted him as saying.
Kalhor is an internationally recognized virtuoso who has collaborated with many other international artists, including the Silk Road ensemble, which began as a fusion of classical Indian and Persian music and that has toured the world.
“He has traveled extensively throughout Iran, studying the music of its many regions, in particular those of Khorason and Kordestan” according to the biography on Kalhor’s website.
For more about Kalhor and his music: