In a spectacular coming together of rich Persian and Western musical traditions, Iranian singer-songwriter Mohsen Namjoo and Italian vocal quartet Faraualla recently took the stage together at the Music Center's Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles for the US premiere performance of their new release On the String of the Tear's Bow. The performance was paired with video and photography installations by Iranian artists Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari. Debuting in the US as part of Namjoo’s 2018 tour, the event was presented by non-profit organisation Farhang Foundation in an effort to further promote Iranian culture in Southern California.
Mohsen Namjoo and the Italian quartet Faraualla
Known as the 'Bob Dylan of Iran', Namjoo is considered to be the first artist to fuse classical Persian and Western styles, artfully mixing the traditional Iranian lute (setar) and electric guitar with Persian poetry and contemporary chatter. His compositions are an exquisite meditation on the contradictions of everyday life.
The show was performed in two acts, with the first featuring songs from On the String of the Tear’s Bow alongside the featured artists’ gripping video installations. The idea was to take the audience on a journey through the Silk Road, examining the crossing of paths of a myriad cultures from the Far East to the Middle East to the Balkans to the south of Italy, which is where Faraualla is from.
The Music Center's Mark Taper Forum where the show was held
Poignant and telling, the installations utilised imagery to draw a parallel between the goddess-like depiction of female mourners in Bari, Italy and women from the Muslim world, as photographed by Neshat. The second act was devoted to Namjoo classics that further explore the link between his home country and the Western world through his eyes. Namjoo's overarching purpose in this concert was to give a contemporary twist to his compositions, all while holding onto his roots.
Namjoo and Faraualla with Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari's presentation of mourning women in the background
There was also a pre-show panel talk, moderated by theatre director Petter Sellars, on 4 June, where Neshat, Azari and Namjoo sat down at the Getty Center to discuss the multimedia performance, which had its worldwide premiere in Rome last year.
The performance took place on 9 June at the Music Center’s Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, USA. Musiccenter.org/namjoo