The Kennedy Center

Shanbehzadeh Ensemble



Biography

The Ensemble, directed by Saeid Shanbehzadeh has delighted audiences in Iran, Europe and North America with the rhythms and subtle melodies of this astonishing music. 

The music of Bushehr is an amalgam of the traditions of Persians, Arabs, African and Indian, who met centuries ago at this cultural crossroads in the south of Iran on the edge of the Persian Gulf. This diversity is the result of an astonishing richness of traditions, where the music plays a vital part in all the aspects of the life: religion, work, social events, dramas and fears.This diversity of influences, especially its black roots, has been an inspiration above all to the singer and bandleader, who has been living in France for several years now. He leads an ensemble of Iranian and French musicians who are devoted to playing an eclectic mix of traditional rhythms and jazz, with strains of the nayanban, a type of bagpipes made of lambskin. Their drive shows that Iranian music more than a mix of the mystical and the melancholic: it is also an invitation to let go and celebrate. 

Saeid Shanbehzadeh started playing music at the age of 7 in his native town of Boushehr with the old masters of the region. He began his musical training with percussion, singing and traditional dance. At the age of 20, he founded the Shanbehzadeh Ensemble and, in 1990, won the first prize of the Fajr Music Festival of Tehran.Concurrent with writing and performing music, Saeid began researching the music of southern Iran and published articles on the genre. In 1996, he was invited by the University of Toronto to teach a half-a-year course. In 1998, he was named professor and director of the House of Culture, Music and Dance of the Island of Kish, Iran.

Naghib Shanbehzadeh started to learn music in Boushehr and Kish with his father, Saeid, at the age of three. In addition to showing great affinity for the percussions of the region (damm, doholgap, pipe, kesser), he also studied the more traditional tombak for two years with Master Mahmoud Farahmand in Tehran.

Habib Mefhtaboushehri started playing music at an early age in religious ceremonies. Later, he learned to play the flute from his father while he learned all the intricacies of Zarb-tempo on his own and with the help of experienced masters in the city. While in university, he competed in the student’s Music Festival and won the first prize as a flute soloist three years in a row. At the age of twenty he was invited by Saied Shanbehzadeh to join the Zar Ensemble and teach at the House of the Arts in Kish Island.

In 2001 the French Montalvo/Hervieu Copmany invited him to participate in creating and touring with the ‘Babelle Heureuse’ show, which was performed more than two hundred times in France, Europe and Brazil.
Shanbehzadeh Ensemble