Many in the United States likely view Iran as a closed society, one that has limited contact with the western world. But many in Iran would like to see more cultural exchanges.
Among them is Grammy-nominated Iranian musician Hossein Alizadeh, who performs Sunday at Washington University. An avant-garde musician, Alizadeh is known improvising on the radif, a traditional Persian musical instrument. He has toured the world extensively and taught music in Europe and the Middle East.
Alizadeh established himself as a creative force in his early 20s by deviating from the strict unity of traditional Persian arrangements. He will be joined by master musicians Hossein Behroozina, a former child prodigy on the Persian lute; Behnam Samani, an accomplished percussionist; and his son, Saba Alizadeh, an experimental musician who plays the kamancheh, a Persian spiked fiddle.
Their performance at the 560 Music Center will be their first in St. Louis. According to the musicians, their concert will take a more introspective approach to establishing shared musical experience.
For Alizadeh, the connection between performer and the audience is the key to creating a transcendental performance.
“When I set my foot on stage from the very beginning moments I think about [playing] something that my breath and the audience’s breath becomes one,” he said. “We become one body.”
The musician is bringing that technique to a number of cities across the United States and Europe on his current tour. He said the power of music to break down cultural barriers drives much of his approach to performing.
“When the music has its own momentum it’s going to affect any nationality,” Alizadeh said. “It doesn’t matter which part of the world its from and which part of the world the audience is from."
Alizadeh’s musical immersion began when he was a small child. He fell in love with the world of “fantasy” that’s created by captivating music. As an international star, he has had to navigate the differences between playing international and domestic audiences in small and large venues. But whether traveling abroad or playing at home in Iran, he said it’s his job to meet audiences where they are.
Follow Willis Ryder Arnold on Twitter @WillisRArnold