The Kennedy Center

Nava Ensemble


Shahriar Saleh (Founder of Nava Music Ensemble – Master of Santur) Shahriar Saleh who was born in Tehran, Iran & has been residing in the US since 1967, is a Master of the “Santur” instrument, and remains to be a highly respected Master of the Persian Classical Music Theory and Practice. The founder & the Conductor of The Nava Music Ensemble, Shahriar Saleh has been communicating messages of understanding, compassion, and love of peace in the world through the vehicle of music and the arts for more than half a century to date. Under direction of Shahriar, Nava's quality of music performance has earned its eighth performance on the Millennium stage of the Kennedy Center this year, on August 17, 2010.

Shahriar who is a Civil Engineer & currently a Senior Federal Government Employee working for the National Institutes of Health (NIH, Chief of Capital Projects), continues to dedicate most of his disposable time to the performance, teaching, and to the preservation & promotion of Persian Traditional music, as well as to maintaining communications & collaborations with many other respected Iranian musicians worldwide. To date, Shahriar Saleh has participated in numerous concerts and public events, including numerous performances at the Annual Washington Folk Festival, local & international concerts, TV & Radio programs, and at many educational & cultural institutions. 

Ali Reza Analouei (Founder of SAMA Ensemble - Master of Tombak)
Ali Reza Analouei who was born in Esfahan, Iran, has undertaken the lifetime quest to amplify and apply the concepts of Sufism, Erfaan, and music within his playing, his teaching, and his personal development. He began playing Tombak at the age of ten, and as a young member of the Kakh-e Javanaan Ensemble, was privileged to interact personally and even sometimes perform with many of the greatest Persian musicians. The work and style of Iran’s late Master of Tombak, Ostad Jahangeer Malek deeply informs Ali’s style of playing. His teaching is firmly rooted in the work of Ostad Hosain Tehrani, enriched by some of the contributions of Ostad Malek, Ostad Muhammad Esmaili, and Bahman Rajabi.

After completing a Doctorate Degree at the Manchester University in England, Ali migrated to the United States in 1986 and has been playing and teaching Tombak based in Washington, DC. Currently a member of several important music groups based in the Mid-Atlantic U.S., Dr. Analouei has played internationally in many concerts and ensembles over the past two decades, including various radio and television shows. He is the founder of the SAMA Ensemble, a large group featuring Tombak, Daf and vocals (whose name references the best known of the ritual dances of the Sufis, characterized by whirling) offers performances and recitals in the Mid-Atlantic U.S.; and of the SAMA Summit, which is a smaller, elite group performing three kinds of works: those which amplify the Sufi tradition of melding ecstatic music and poetry; those which showcase the astonishing range of sounds, dynamics and textures of the Tombak and Daf; and those which extend the sonic possibilities to include other select instruments, and guest artists.

Beyond the top-tier concert venues which have showcased the SAMA Ensemble such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Theater, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Geographic Society (under the auspices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees) the SAMA Summit has performed for the full General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, for the prestigious American Folk Festival, and for several events for the Maryland and Virginal States Arts Council. 

Naser Khorasani (Director of the Daf Division of SAMA Ensemble - Master of Daf)
Naser Khorasani is a Master of the Daf; a frame drum traditionally used in Sufi mysticism and Persian folk music, and a highly respected Master of Persian Classical Music Theory and Practice. He is originally from Tabriz, Iran and currently resides in the Washington DC area. He is a Psychologist and member of the American Psychological Association, with a specialty in music therapy and meditation. He studied under Mr. Masood Habibi, one of the most prominent Daf players in the world and under the guidance of Mr. A. Kaveh for the Tanboor and divan.

Nasser has traveled world-wide as the manager and a player of Mr.Habibi's orchestra of more than 60 Daf players to perform at Sufi festivals such as the Konya Rumi International Sufi concert in Turkey, Europe 2001-2003 and the Jahan-e-Khosro Sufi Festival (2001-2005) in India. He has performed with some of the most famous ensembles including Hadis, Masnavi, and Dalahoo for various venues including the opening ceremony for the National Olympic Canoe Committee. His recent performances in the District of Columbia include Georgetown University, The Washington DC Dance Festival, The Kennedy Center, Library of Congress Folk life Concerts and the Smithsonian Folk life Festival. In 2006 the Maryland State Arts Council recognized his outstanding contributions with a Maryland Traditions grant. This past spring the United Nations honored Naser Khorasani to perform for the assembly in commemoration of the Persian-language poet and philosopher Mawlana Jalal-ud-Din Balkhi-Rumi.( 2007 ).

In 2007 as the manager and member of The Dalahoo Sufi Ensemble, Khorasani began a global tour. To date the ensemble has performed in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver (Canada), Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York ,San Francisco (United States), Damascus, Doha, Dubai, Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Tajikistan (Asia).  Naser Khorasani directs the Daf division of SAMA Ensemble and currently teaches at the Center for SAMA Ensemble Music Training Center (SEMTC) in Vienna, Virginia. 

Mehdi Assadi (Vocalist & Master of Ney)
Mehdi Assadi who currently lives in the state of Virginia, USA is a popular Persian classical music Vocalist, & Master of Ney (a flute like instrument which is probably the oldest pitched instrument know to man). He began taking lessons on Piano at a prominent music school in Tehran, Iran at age 8, and continued his studies there with Persian traditional instruments such as Ney, Tar, Setar, Santur, Tombak, etc.

After Mehdi’s talents were discovered by the Film industry in Iran, some of his early work includes the production of the music CDs for several major movies in Iran (Raghse Bahar, Savaran, Khatereh, Toloe Khorsid, etc.). Soon after which, he began to perform as a professional soloist musician, and also with major Ensembles performing in several Middle Eastern and European countries, such as Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Sweden, France, Germany, etc. In 2003, Mehdi founded & established “Hamnava” Ensemble. In 2006, this Ensemble performed a tour in Europe with accompanist Mastero Majid Derakhshani, who is a prominent Iranian Master player of Tar, followed by an invitation to perform in the US.

Mehdi’s US concerts include performing in collaboration with Nava Music Ensemble on the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center in May 2009; the celebration of Rumi at the United Nations (July 2007), The World Bank, and several concerts in Florida in collaboration with SAMA Ensemble. Also, many concerts at Cultural Institutions & universities such as The University of Michigan, The University of Columbia in New York, and in collaboration with the Open Theater Group of The Catholic University in Washington DC., with Performances in Baltimore and Philadelphia as well.

Afsaneh Ziaee Saleh (Nava Music Ensemble General Manager/Emcee)
The wife of Shahriar Saleh & the General Manager/Emcee of Nava Music Ensemble, Afsaneh who has an extensive managerial & public relations background & knowledge (MBA, graduate of the George Washington University & the President of a Management Consulting Practice) continues to oversee the operations of Nava Music Ensemble, and plays a key role in the production & successful delivery of Nava Music Ensemble’s popular cultural programs, public events, and concerts.
Nava Ensemble