The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

the Persian New Year, Noruz
on March 21, 2000, 6:00-7:00 pm EST
On the Millennium stage of
the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Live webcast at

NAVA, the Iranian Classical Ensemble presents:

  • Sorud Ey Iran, by young Iranian players. The audience around the stage is encouraged to sing along, as the young performers led by Shahriar Saleh play this national song of Iran.
  • Variations in Dastgah (Key) Mahur. Mahur is one of seven Iranian tonalities and as its name implies, closely resembles a western major key, and in this case, G Major. However, as melodies progress, it deviates from standard G Major and assumes the very Iranian tonalities, based on quarter tones.

    The list of songs to be played, are as follows:

    • Peesh Daramad by M. Ney Davoud
    • Narges-e Masti by Sheida
    • Pardeesh by F. Payvar
    • Ze Man Negaram, an old song
    • Zolf-e Sar Kajat by Sheida
    • Reng-e Ghahr O Oshti by Darveesh Khan
Persian Classical Music

Persian music is based on twelve principal modal systems: seven primary systems called Dastgahs and five secondary systems called Sub Dastgahs or Avaz. Each system is divided into a series of melodic sequences linked to each other in an unresolved continuity. These sequences are called Gusheh and their number varies depending on the Dastgah. Each Dastgah or Avaz constitutes a specific scale having three distinct notes: (a) Shahed (witness or root note), regarded as the tonal or modal center of the Dastgah (Key); (b) Eest (rest note), a temporary rest place for the melodies before as they gradually incline; and (c) Moteghayer (the variable note), which produces expressive colors. The entire group of the systems taken together constitutes the repertoire of Classical Persian Music or Radeef a word that means arrangement and order. Most of Radeef has no meter and follows a speech-like rhythm, but it also contains rhythmic pieces that normally have drum accompaniments.

The compositions are mostly based on the Radeefs. They include a Peesh Daramad, sometimes stately or lively piece, as the introduction of the Dastgah played by an ensemble in unison; the Chahar-Mezrab a virtuoso solo number with driving rhythm; the Tasneef (a lyrical song) and a Reng a dance-like piece usually in 6/8 meter.

Dastgah of Mahur is chosen for this performance.

The Musicians

Nader Bazazieh: A well-known violinist, who in addition to his graduate degree in engineering, and working as a professional engineer, has played as a first violinist with many ensembles both in Iran and abroad.

Dr. Houshang Hodjati: As a practicing physician and a physicist, he has a vast knowledge of Persian literature and poetry. He has a wonderful voice and has performed in many cultural and academic circles.

Saeed Kavussi: Since childhood, he has played the amazing single drum called Tombak and has continued playing professionally since he came to the U.S. He has an exceptional talent and ability of producing a vast array of beats and sounds out of this very unique and simple instrument.

Arya Saleh: He began practicing violin at the age of seven with his father, and as a young player, has so far made it to the Washington Symphony Orchestra. At the age of seventeen, he has an excellent command of this instrument and a good exposure to both Western and Persian classical songs.

Shahriar Saleh: He has been teaching, recording, archiving and performing Persian Classical Music for last thirty years while working as a project manager with NIH. He plays the authentic hammer dulcimer or Santur as his main instrument. Invited by the Kennedy Center for this performance, he is proud to have other prominent musicians join him to present this program to the world.

Mohammad Tiva: A professional vocalist and an avid flute player, Mohammad has been playing flute since childhood and attending many concerts both in the Washington Metropolitan area and many other places.

This event is free and open to the public. It can also viewed, live on the Internet at