Workshop with Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat

Old Roots, New Leaves

Wednesday May 27
Festival Central, Building A

12:00pm – 4:00pm

4:30pm – 5:30pm
Conversation and Dinner

6:00pm - 7:30pm
Documentary Film
Singing in Exile

Workshop Cost: $100

Hosted by Sisters Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat


The workshop will teach Persian singing technique, focusing on a vocal ornamentation technique called tahrir, which can be used in songs from other musical traditions. Participants will learn about Persian modes and about the way each mode can evoke emotions. They will discover the history and theory of Persian music and how culture, history and religion affect music, and will understand the significance of the relation between poetry and music. The programme of the workshop may change depending on the skills and mood of participants. But the most important thing is that we’ll all be singing from the first session. The workshop will culminate in a performance by all participants. Participants will receive audio samples and notes on the history and theory of Persian music.


Sisters Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat

were both trained in classical Persian singing by master musicians in Iran as well as in regional and traditional Iranian music. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979 in Iran, public female singing was banned and even many years after the revolution female singers can only perform for women-only audiences or alongside a male voice, and can never perform solo in public. But many female singers in Iran have continued singing regardless, as have Mahsa and Marjan, who give private concerts in Iran but mostly perform outside of the country. Their repertoire is inspired by regional and traditional music from Iran with their own musical expression; their lyrics are mostly mystical and love poems by great Persian poets like Hafez, Rumi, Saadi, who lived several centuries ago, as well as contemporary Iranian poetry speaking about Iranian society. An active campaigner for human rights, Mahsa gives numerous benefit concerts and, with Marjan, is one of the ambassadors of Freemuse, an independent international organisation advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide. She has attracted considerable attention recently with her work on the Lullabies from the Axis of Evil CD and a series of concerts.

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