Saturday, February 15, 2020

Doors 7 PM | Pre-show Artist Discussion 7:30 PM | Show 8 PM


Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center

129 West 67th Street, Manhattan


Tickets: $30 | $35


Join us for a pre-show discussion with the artists, moderated by WMI Artistic Director Brian Keigher.


Presented with Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center




Experience a rare evening of musical dialog between two masters of Middle Eastern string music: Iranian tar virtuoso Sahba Motallebi and Iraqi oud master Rahim AlHaj. The award-winning musicians will perform separately and together in an expression of peace and harmony at this NYC debut collaboration.  Four-time winner at the Iranian Music Festival and the Tehran Conservatory, Sahba Motallebi is recognized internationally as a modern master of the tar and setar, lute-like stringed instruments that are central to traditional Persian music. Iraqi oud maestro, composer, NEA National Heritage Fellow and two-time Grammy Award nominee Rahim AlHaj is considered to be one of the world’s finest oud players. Features a pre-show discussion with the artists moderated by WMI's Artistic Director, Brian Keigher.




Sahba Motallebi began studying music as a young girl in Sari, Northern Iran. In 1993, at age 14, her talent garnered an invitation to study at the Tehran Conservatory of Music. She flourished, was recognized as Best Tar Player at the Iranian Music Festival four years running (1995-1998). After graduating from Conservatory in 1997, she co-founded the groundbreaking women’s music ensemble Chakaveh. In 1999 she joined the Iranian National Orchestra, beginning her career as an international performer. She left Iran in 2003 to pursue graduate studies, which would not have been available to her in Iran because of her Bahai’i faith.


Oud musician and composer Rahim AlHaj began playing oud at the age of nine, going on to study under Munir Bashir at Baghdad Institute of Music, where he received various awards. After the first Gulf War, Rahim was forced to leave Iraq and moved to the US in 2000 as a political refugee.  Considered one of the world’s finest oud players, Rahim has recorded and performed with other master musicians of varied backgrounds and styles including guitarist Bill Frisell, Kronos Quartet, and indie-rockers REM.  Delicately combining traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary styling/influence, his pieces establish new concepts without altering the foundation of traditional “Iraqi School of Oud”. His compositions evoke the experience of exile, consequences in post-war reality and new beginnings. Rahim has released 13 CDs, and has received two Grammy nominations. 


The collaborations series presents cross-cultural musical explorations and collaborations. This series often explores the ways in which the music of artists from one culture has influenced the music of another culture, or how the music of seemingly widely varying cultures can be strikingly similar or complementary.