Kayhan Kalhor

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Kayhan Kalhor
Persian: كيهان كلهر
Kayhan Kalhor in 2017
Kayhan Kalhor in 2017
Background information
Born (1963-11-24) November 24, 1963 (age 56)
Kermanshah,[1] Iran
OriginKermanshah, Iran
GenresIraninan Traditional Music
Kurdish Music
Occupation(s)Kamancheh player, Composer
InstrumentsKamancheh, Setar
Years active1973–present
Associated actsBrooklyn Rider
Silk Road Ensemble

Kayhan Kalhor ([2][3][4] Persian: كيهان كلهر‎) (born 24 November 1963 in Kermanshah,[1] Iran) is a Kurdish kamancheh player from Iran, composer and master of classical Iranian traditional music.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Kayhan Kalhor was born in Tehran to a Kurdish family.[1] He began studying music at the age of seven. By the age of thirteen, he was playing in the National Orchestra of Radio and Television of Iran. Continuing his music studies under various teachers, he studied in the Iraniab radif tradition and also travelled to study in the northern part of Khorasan province, where music traditions have Kurdish and Turkic influences as well as Persian. At a musical conservatory in Tehran, while aged around 20 years, Kalhor worked under the directorship of Mohammad-Reza Lotfi who is from the north-east of Iran. Kalhor also travelled in the northwestern provinces of Iran. He later moved to Rome, Italy and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to study European classical music.[6] He is a graduate of the music program at Carleton University in Ottawa.[7]


Kalhor during a concert in Vahdat Hall in 2016

Kayhan Kalhor has a wide range of musical influences, uses several musical instruments, and crosses cultural borders with his work, but at his center he is an intense player of the Kamancheh. In his playing Kalhor often pins Iranian classical music structures to the rich folk modes and melodies of the Kurdish tradition of Iran.

Kalhor has composed works for and played alongside the famous Iranian vocalists Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri. He has also composed and performed with the Indian sitar player Shujaat Husain Khan and Indian tabla player Swapan Chaudhuri in the group Ghazal. Kalhor's 2004 album In the mirror of the Sky was a joint venture with the Iranian lute player Ali Akbar Moradi. His 2006 album The Wind is a collaboration with the Turkish baglama virtuoso Erdal Erzincan, with both Turkish and Persian pieces performed. At other times Kalhor has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project Ensemble in the US and the Kronos Quartet.

Kalhor now resides in USA and has been commercially successful in USA over the past decade. Two of his works were nominated for Grammy Awards in 2004.

In 2010 Kalhor composed "I was there", which was based "on a melody attributed to Ziryab, a ninth-century Iranian musician", for a Maya Beiser concert. This piece was performed by Kalhor alongside Maya Beiser, the renowned cellist Bassam Saba, an oud player, and two percussionists, Glen Velez and Matt Kilmer.[8][9]


Album artists Album Release date
Ghazal Lost Songs of the Silk Road 1997
Ghazal As Night Falls on the Silk Road 1998
Kayhan Kalhor Scattering Stars Like Dust 1998
Shahram Nazeri and Dastan Ensemble Through Eternity 1999
Ghazal Moon Rise over the Silk Road 2000
Kayhan Kalhor and Mohammad Reza Shajarian Night, Silence, Desert 2000
Kronos Quartet Caravan 2000
Masters of Persian Music It's Winter 2001
Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet 2001
Masters of Persian Music Without You 2002
Ghazal The Rain 2003
Ali Akbar Moradi In the Mirror of the Sky 2004
Masters of Persian Music Faryad 2005
Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon 2005
Kayhan Kalhor & Erdal Erzincan The Wind 2006
Masters of Persian Music Saze Khamoosh 2007
Masters of Persian Music Soroude Mehr 2007
Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble New Impossibilities 2007
Kayhan Kalhor & Brooklyn Rider Silent City 2008
Silk Road Ensemble Off the Map 2009
Kayhan Kalhor & Madjid Khaladj Voices of the Shades 2011
Dresdner Sinfoniker Cinema Jenin OST 2011
Brooklyn Rider Quartet Rhino Season OST 2012
Kayhan Kalhor & Ali Bahrami Fard I Will Not Stand Alone 2012
Kayhan Kalhor & Erdal Erzincan Kula Kulluk Yakişir Mi 2013
Hawniyaz Hawniyaz 2016
Silk Road Ensemble The Music of Strangers†§ 2017
Silk Road Ensemble Sing me home†§ 2017
Kayhan Kalhor & Rembrandt Frerichs Trio It's Still Autumn 2019

† Nominated for a Grammy Award

§ Won a Grammy Award

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "زندگینامه: کیهان کلهر (۱۳۴۲-)". HamshahriOnline.
  2. ^ "تاران (ZNA) ـ نوێترین ئەلبوومی گرووپی موزیکی "رێگای ھەریشم" بە ژەنیاریی موزیکزانی کورد کەیھان کەڵھوڕ، لە ئاستی جیھاندا بڵاودەکرێتەوە". p. ku. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  3. ^ "کونسێرتی که‌یهان که‌لهوڕ له‌ کرماشان به‌ڕێوه‌ چوو" (in Kurdish). Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Keyhan Kelhur xelata Grammy stand" (PDF) (in Kurdish). 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  5. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien (August 26, 2008). "A Master Iranian Musician Plays Cultural Ambassador". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2010-07-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Video - Carleton grad plays the Iranian kamancheh - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences". carleton.ca. Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  8. ^ Smith, Steve (19 April 2010). "A Cellist and Her Friends Explore Multicultural Harmonies". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Provenance - Maya Beiser". mayabeiser.com. Archived from the original on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2015.

External links[edit]