Cross-cultural Collaboration (Music)
EchoMerz is a brand new exciting World Music ensemble rooted in Persian classical music and founded by santur player extraordinaire, Faraz Minooei. Born in the diverse culture of the San Francisco Bay Area, the group brings a contemporary style of cross-cultural music to the stage.
Faraz Minooei - Composer, Santur Player, Music Faculty
Faraz Minooei was born in Tehran and began playing santur at the young age of nine. While studying with Behnam Mehrabi, he discovered a deep spiritual desire to study music, seeing music as an "unexplainable souvenir from the eternal truth". Faraz received his B.A. from San Francisco State University in 2008 as a Nagle Scholar and the first World/Jazz music major with santur as his primary instrument! As a full-time musician, Faraz is a performer, composer, ethno-musicologist and teacher. He views studying music as a never-ending mission. In view of that, he has also had the good fortune to study with masters such as M. R. Lotfi, H. Omoumi, Royal Hartigan, Hafez Modirzadeh, Michael Dessen, Kojiro Umezaki and Christopher Dobrian. Since 2006, he has lectured and performed at many universities including SFSU, UCI, UCLA, UCSC Stanford University and at the Society of Ethnomusicology. He has performed with noted ensembles in the United Sates, among which was his collaboration in 2009 with Yo Yo Ma and Kayhan Kalhor in the Silk Road Ensemble (for the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln Center) and the collaboration as a composer and santur player with the film director Bahram Beyzaie for two different plays of Jana & Baladour and Ardaviraf's Report. Recipient of numerous scholarships and grants, he earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree in music with emphasis in Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology from the University of California in Irvine. His thesis, "Abstracting" Iranian Classical Music, challenges the traditional practice of Iranian Classical Music to introduce innovative and transformative functions of the music in contemporary society.
Michael Shiono - Bass Player, Educator, Composer
Michael Shiono is a Bay Area bass player, music director and educator currently residing in Oakland.
Michael has taught at UC BERKELEY via their Young Musician's Program since 2010. Michael is also on faculty at OAKLAND SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS. Michael's bass students have gone on to top universities/ conservatories around the country and have received over a quarter million dollars in scholarships.
Michael has served as musical director for 2 time Grammy award winner, Jennifer Holliday. Michael has also worked with a wide range of major artists including; Rita Moreno, Kenny Garrett, Spencer Day, Patrice Rushen and Joan Rivers, as well as Bay Area groups; Rupa & the April Fishes, Bayonics, Sila, La Gente, and the 415's.
Michael proudly endorses AGUILAR AMPS, DR STRINGS, and GLENN CRONKHITE GIG BAGS
Behfar Bahadoran - Composer, Tar Player, Visual Artist
Behfar Bahadoran is an accomplished musician from Iran and is currently a student of fine arts in Maryland Institute College of Art. He moved to the United States in 2005 and developed his career as a musician and a music instructor in the first two years. He has performed at many prestigious venues including the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, Lincoln Center in New York City, Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Freer Shackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City and many more. He studied violin with maestro Homayoun Khorram and Iranian percussion instruments with Ramin Rahimi and Arsalan Sedigh. Behfar has also performed as a percussionist, composer, and a tar player (a traditional lute shaped instrument from Iran) with many master musicians such as Kazem Davoudian, Majid Derakhshani, Dawn Avery, Amadou Kuyateh, John Wubbenhorst, Pezhham Akhavass, Faraz Minooei and Steve Bloom. He continues his journey in the field of art and music by performing and composing music and creating artwork in different media. He recorded an album titled Exordium at the age of 19 which is improvisations in different modes of Iranian Classical music. He currently resides in the D.C. area and teaches traditional Iranian music to students from different ethnicities.
Payam Yousef - Ethnomusicologist, Kamancheh Player
Payam Yousef is a young music scholar, composer, vocalist, kamancheh (Persian fiddle) soloist, and music educator in the Los Angeles area. Payam, was born on February 16th 1988 in Hayward California in a traditional Iranian household. As a child growing up he was surrounded by Persian music, poetry, and culture, and it could be said that his homes spirit was synonymous with the spirit of Iran. His first exposure to traditional Persian music was upon birth, through his fathers voice, that was meticulously practicing, and studying the works of master vocalist Ostad Mohammad Reza Shajarian. Although Payam never formally studied with his father, Asghar Yousef, he maintains that, “Constant exposure to my fathers singing was my first indirect musical lesson that shaped my musical instincts and familiarized me with the Persian repertoire... I am forever in-debt to my fathers indirect musical lessons that were disguised and beautifully woven into everyday life.” Payam later studied various modal/vocal systems, techniques, and styles of Persian traditional music (Radif) through his longterm apprenticeship of Ostad Mashumeh Mehrali, whom he knows himself primarily in debt to for his musical capabilities. He also completed the instrumental radif’s, and much of the Kamancheh repertoire with Negar Kharkan, and then, with the recommendation of his instructors, went on to study the advanced techniques and repertoires of the Kamancheh as a dedicated apprentice of Ostad Ardeshir Kamkar. Currently Payam Yousef is in the process of graduating from UCLA’s Ethnomusicology program with an emphasis in World Music Composition, Scholarly Research in Music, and a minor in Visual Arts & Performing Arts Education. He is the founder and current president of the Traditional Persian Music Ensemble student organization at UCLA. He has also recently composed a complete musical work dedicated to the 12th century Persian Sufi & poet Farīd ud-Dīn Attar Nishabouri titled Sharabe Asheghan. This year he will also be publishing his recent research article titled Classical Persian Music Pedagogy: The Concept of Universal Climax & the Effects of Western Influences. To this day Payam continues his apprenticeships with all of the above names, and prides himself in being a student of Iran’s rich musical tradition.
Ali Bazyar - Percussionist
Ali Bazyar is a multi-percussionist currently practicing in the Bay Area. Ali, was born on December 2nd 1980 in Tehran, Iran in a family who endorsed music, and noticed Ali’s talent in Tonbak at an early age. Ali began his Tonbak training when he was nine years old under master Bakhtiari, Bahman Rajabi and Mohammad Tayebi. By the time Ali was 14 years old, he had his first performance on stage at Talar Vahdat under master Tayebi‘s supervision. Simultaneously, Ali was performing at Bahman Cultural Center. After that, Ali was regularly performing with Traditional, and Pop bands.
Ali left Iran in 2004, and after resettling in the US, he began experimenting with other world percussions such as Cajon, Dejembe, Udu, and etc. Upon his arrival in the US, Ali also got the chance to collaborate with Ostad Bahram Beyzaie and Mojde Shamsai in a theatrical shadow play called Jana Baladoor. Ali also performed in several concerts with Iranian singer and song writer, Mohsen Namjoo, and cooperated in a few albums with him. Ali collaborated with Shahin Najafi, as well as other local musicians such as Kamran Thundar, Emad Bonakdar, and Ballet Afsaneh. Ali crossed the lines between Traditional, Pop, Jazz and Rock music, and is known to be a versatile percussionist. He is currently residing and teaching private percussion classes in the Bay Area. Ali continues his journey in music.
Amir H Bayat - Pianist, Tar Player and Composer
Amir Hossein Bayat was born in 1997 in Zanjan, Iran into a musical family. At the young age of three he began instruction on the tonbak (persian hand drum) as a student of his father. Amir Hossein's talents and interest at such a young age inspired his father to begin training him in a more serious manner. At the age of 5 he began his instruction at Rastarapovic Music School 21 in Baku, Azerbaijan under the direction and guidance of Maestro Mistislav Rastarapovic. In this time period he began his instruction on the piano as a student of Lodmila Astarkua. By the age of seven he performed his first concert as a pianist with the Government of Azerbaijans Symphonic Orchestra. Until his move to America he was a regular performer with the Azerbaijani Symphonic Orchestra and performed the works of Berkovic, Motzart, and Beethoven to name a few. He is currently continuing his studies in Western Classical music, composition, and Piano. In addition to Western Music he has recently begun his studies in Traditional Iranian music and is receiving advanced instruction on the Tar (Persian Lute) as a student of his father.