Born in Minnesota, I have studied and performed Persian/Iranian traditional music since 1992. I play Setar, a four string long neck lute native to Iran, the two string Dutar of Torbat-e Jam (Iran), and the three string Kurdish Tanbur.
The Setar is considered one of Iran's most mystical instruments due to it's quiet, intimate sound. For twenty five years I have adhered to the traditional repertoire known as the radif. The radif is a body of about three hundred melodies divided into twelve modes that have strict rules and structures. Two years ago, I abandoned the rule book and began the search for my voice in this music. Now there is no plan, my performances are improvised and created in the moment.
The Dutar of Torbat-e Jam is one of the many two string instruments found throughout Iran and Central Asia. This dutar only has eight frets. It also is a mystical instrument with the drone string symbolizing the eternal, that which never changes, and the fretted string symbolizing the ever changing. From the moment this instrument entered my home, something happened to me at each playing. Drawing on my knowledge of Iranian modal systems, I have written music for the poetry of Omar Khayyam. Using translations by Mahdi Amadi and myself, I sing the poetry in both Farsi and English.
Beginning in 1992, I studied with masters in the United States, Canada, and Iran. In 1993 I received the Minnesota State Arts Board Apprenticeship grant to study Radif with Ali Zarrin. Three years later, I received a Jerome Foundation Travel Study Grant to study music in Iran. I traveled to Iran in 1996 and 2002. I have created and continue to create numerous radio programs for KFAI radio on my weekly radio show, "Century Song".
During my explorations into Iranian music and Iranian poetry, I began to feel the need to once again express myself through the written word. My approach is rooted in nature, the earth, and the world around me. My objective is to tell a poetic story. Sometimes I use the poetry of the Iranians as a spring board for my creative process. My poetry is the place where the struggle between my inner and outer worlds can find expression in this world.