Kayhan Kalhor was seven-years-old when he began his music studies in his native Iran, under the teaching of Master Ahmad Mohajer. Within six years, his prodigious talent for the kamancheh had seen him invited to work with the Iranian National Radio and Television Orchestra, and from that point he never looked back.
In a career spanning four decades Kalhor has been instrumental in popularising Persian music around the world, and remains a creative force to this day. He has toured the globe, both as a soloist, and with ensembles and orchestras including the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de Lyon. Nominated for a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award in 2002, he has since been awarded the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik and seen five of his recordings nominated for Grammys; he finally received the accolade in 2017 with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.
To help you get a flavour of Kalhor’s talent for the kamancheh, we’ve picked out five past performances for you to enjoy, starting with this 2016 concert in Ede, Netherlands with Rembrandt Frerichs Trio.
Three years earlier, in November 2013, Kalhor gave a sold-out performance at New York’s Asia Society with fellow Iranian musician, the santour player Ali Bahrami Fard. The pair performed music from their album I Will Not Stand Alone, with Kalhor playing the shah kaman rather than the kamancheh for which he is better know.
NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series always delivers when it comes to unique performances. Recorded at an empty desk in the corner of the NPR Music office, the long running video series has seen incredible mini gigs from big stars and up and coming names, huge ensembles and intimate solos. Kalhor’s performance here, recorded back in 2012, is very much in the latter bracket as he delivers an incredible 12 minute improvisation piece titled Improvisation In Dastgah Nava.
Back to the collaborations, and a glorious duet between Kalhor and the Malian kora player, Toumani Diabaté from early 2017. Recorded at the Morgenland Festival in Osnabrück, Germany this performance not onlys shows a fantastic fusion of Persian and West African sounds, but you can also see the mutual respect the two musicians hold for one another’s talents.
For our final clip, it only seems right to return to the work of Kalhor and Rembrandt Frerichs Trio, as it is this collaboration we will be welcoming to our Royal Festival Hall. Another performance recorded in the Netherlands, this time as part of Rotterdam’s 2015 Jazz International Festival, this video shows the opening recital of their truly mesmerising performance at De Doelen concert hall.
Kaylan Kalhor and Rembrandt Frerichs Trio performed music from their 2013 collaborative album It’s Still Autumn, at Southbank Centre in October, 2019.
Every year Southbank Centre presents live contemporary music gigs and performances that blur genre boundaries and showcase the best new sounds from across the globe.