In the eclectic musical universe of the Kamaan Ensemble, the boundaries are abolished and give way to a bewitching alchemy between the santour of Amir Amiri, the kamanché of Showan Tavakol, the rabab and the voice of Behnaz Sohrabi and Olivier Marin's viola. The energy of the kamanché, the delicacy of the rabab and the voice, the sweetness of the santur, and the depth of the viola's timbre blend together to evoke ancient and nostalgic tales, with universal resonances.
The four musicians create a unique fusion that combines the refinement of traditional Persian classical music with the rigour of folk melodies in a contemporary and creative approach. The Ensemble Kamaan thus offers a world of epic journeys, free from borders, with pieces that broaden the fields of musical traditions.
Iranian music reflects the mosaic of the country's languages: Persia,
from Azerbaijan, Kurdish, Baluchi, Khorasani and Turkaman. Each of these musics, according to its origin, has its own modal system based on orality. Conversely, "Dastgahi" music, Persian classical music, includes a written repertoire. Kamaan's objective is to link the written repertoire of Dastgahi music with the oral repertoire of the different regions in a contemporary musical perspective, going so far as to explore bridges with Western, Baroque and medieval music.
In recent years, the Ensemble has performed in many venues
Montreal: at the Sala Rossa, Place des arts (Festival du monde arabe), the Canadian Music Centre of Montreal, for the Young Musicians of Canada...
With "Des chemins qui mènent partout", set off on the road of tales and legends of the world and travel from the West to Persia via Canada. A musical discovery at the crossroads of civilizations not to be missed.
Santur player, composer, and cultural inventor Amir Amiri has spent his decades-long career exploring the limits of his music, and keeps coming to the conclusion that there are none.
As a santur player, Amir seeks to bring this ancient instrument into the musical conversations of our time, engaging across borders and transcending genres. Dazzlingly virtuosic and with a keen imagination, Amir creates an enchanting and unique musical universe with every performance.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Amir has called Canada home for the past two decades. His instrument, the santur, comprises 72 hammered strings, and is among the earliest ancestors of the harp, the Chinese yangqin, the harpsichord, the qanun, the cimbalom and the hammered dulcimer. Amir studied the Radiff system of Persian classical music and graduated from the University of Tehran with an honors degree in composition. His principle teachers included Meheran Ghalaee, Majeed Kyanee, and Parviz Meshkatiyan. He also studied Indian classical music (Ragas) with teachers Ravi Shankar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Since arriving in Canada, he has welcomed the opportunity to work with western classical musicians Bob Becker, Edgar Meyer and David Takeno, and has also collaborated with Hugh Fraser, Darcy Phillip Gray, Mike Murly, John Stetch and Bill Cahn.
Recently, Amir was invited to Ottawa’s National Arts Center as Artistic Director for the sold-out program Sounds of Persia: Canada’s New Music Masters. Amir has worked as a percussionist/ composer throughout Canada: for the theatre production of The Odyssey (Banff Centre Theatre Arts Program and Manitoba Theatre for Young People), and for Manitoba Theatre Centre, Vertigo Theatre, VIA Dance Ensemble, Lu Lu Dance Productions, Great Canadian Theatre Company, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Alberta Ballet, McDonald Wilson Dance Academy and University of Calgary Dance Program. Amir has been commissioned by CBC radio and has composed works for santur and orchestra in collaboration with Andrea Young. He was awarded the 2003 CBC Artist of the Year from the Galaxie Rising Stars Program and The Betty Mitchell Best Composition and Sound Design award.
Behnaz Sohrabi was born in Tehran, Iran, where she was introduced to music with piano lessons, and subsequently much of her youth was devoted to studying traditional Iranian music (Dastgahi system) and playing the Tar (a long-neck Persian lute), Rabab and Daf (an Iranian percussion instrument). She is also well-versed in the oral culture of Iranian traditional song.
Behnaz earned a Master's degree in Artistic Research from the Tehran University of Art, specializing in Persian modal systems (Radif and Dastgahi) and Iranian folk music. Her dissertation, "The Analytic Comparison of the Common Roots Between the Music of Torbat-e-Jam and Dastgahi,” deepened her approach towards the music of the different regions and the music of "Dastgahi" as well as her knowledge of the traditional Iranian instruments. She also studied under the tutelage of Ostad Lotf, one of the great masters of classical Persian music.
Behnaz is equally passionate about music education, particularly in the domain of early childhood arts education, and has been contributing to the field for over a decade. She is active as an performer and researcher of Iranian regional music, including in various ensembles, including Torgheh, Chakavak, Javan and Peltan Ensemble. Since arriving in Canada in 2015, she has played with Montreal ensembles such as Uptin and Kamaan in which she both sings and plays Rabab.
Of Kurdish origin and born in Tehran, Iran, Showan Tavakol is a composer and a Kamancheh performer. His pieces for soloists and ensembles have been performed in Europe, Asia, and Canada. He also composes for film, notably "Manuscripts Don't Burn" directed by Mohammad Rasoulof and screened at Cannes in 2013. As a performer, Showan Tavakol has performed many of his own solo compositions including the "Concerto for Kamancheh and Orchestra" which received accolades from the jury at the Fajr International Music Festival (Iran). Three albums of his works have been recorded in Iran and in Germany: "On Trolley of Time", "Parallax View" and "Suge Sarv".
In 2016, Showan Tavakol composed a piece for Kamancheh and orchestra that was performed in Montreal by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) with the composer as soloist, and he is currently composer-in-residence for various orchestral ensembles.
Showan Tavakol holds a diploma in music and a Master's degree in Kamancheh performance from the University of Tehran. Driven by an interest in ethnomusicology, he has also pursued studies in the traditional instruments of a variety of cultures. Since settling in Quebec in 2015, he has obtained a Master's degree in instrumental composition from the Université de Montréal, co-supervised by Ana Sokolovic and François-Hugues Leclair. His thesis topic, “Exploring Meeting Points in Western and Middle-Eastern Music Through Musical Composition”, reflects his compositional goals. Showan Tavakol is an associate composer at the Canadian Music Center (CMC).
OLIVIER MARIN, viola/composer
Olivier Marin, viola and creation, performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician at music festivals worldwide where he presents original recitals combining classical, contemporary and world music. In his artistic approach, Olivier explores various music styles and instruments, particularly in projects mixing different musical traditions. His most recent composition Undō, for viola, electronic and video was selected to be performed at the International Viola Congress in the Netherlands in 2018, the New York City Electroacoustic Festival (USA), and the Noisefloor Festival (UK). For many years now he has been studying improvisation with teachers such as Ibrahim Maalouf, Garth Knox, Rachid Brahim, Djellul, Bruno Chevillon, and Vincent Lê-Quang. Since his arrival in Montreal in 2016, he has worked to develop several original projects, including the Kamaan Ensemble and collaborations with contemporary dancers.
In 2012 he was admitted to le Pôle Supérieur Artistique de Paris where he worked with Louis Fima, after studying for one year at the Conservatoire de Paris. He has also acquired a substantial amount of experience in chamber music and orchestra, in large part due to studies with the Quatuor Debussy at the Conservatory of Lyon. As an orchestral muscian, he was selected to participate at the academies “L’Orchestre de Paris” and “L’Orchestre des Siècles”.
In 2016, he received first prize at the Gérardmer-Kichompré international string competition in France. He has received numerous scholarships including the bourses des amis de l'art, la bourse Luc Vinet, and la bourse du Comité des Etudes Supérieur UdeM. Oliver Marin holds a master’s degree in viola performance fom the Université de Montréal with Jutta Puchhammer.