(Boston Globe) | February 19, 2010
By Andrew Gilbert
Masters turn to new generation
The Islamic revolution that engulfed Iran in 1979 didn’t just sweep away the old political order. Under Ayatollah Khomeini’s strict interpretation of Shiite Islam, just about every form of music was banned, including the nation’s supremely sophisticated classical tradition with roots stretching back to Persia’s pre-Islamic Sassanian Dynasty.
Kayhan Kalhor, the unsurpassed master of the kamancheh, an ancient four-string spiked violin, has spent much of his life building bridges between Iran and the West. But he launched the Masters of Persian Music partly as a way to repair the post-revolution generational divide among Iranian musicians. A founding member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, he lived in Europe and the United States for about two decades before returning to Iran in 2003.
“All of the old masters left Iran around the revolution in search of better situations and more concerts,’’ Kalhor, 47, says from his home in Tehran. “There are thousands of brilliant young technicians in Iran now, but there’s this gap between two generations, and there’s a lot that’s missing in the music. This happened in every art form. There was this brilliant film generation before the revolution, but after nothing happened until a few years ago.’’