Persian presence at Avataran ‘22 by October Octaves

Iranian musicians Asal Malekzadeh and Ali Seriri talk about their life and their art

October 22, 2022 07:53 pm | Updated 08:13 pm IST

Asal Malekzadeh at Avataran ‘22

Asal Malekzadeh at Avataran ‘22 | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Iranian musicians Asal Malekzadeh and Ali Seriri were recently in Bengaluru to perform at Avataran ‘22, the annual concert presented by October Octaves. Asal is a percussionist who specialises on the daf, an Iranian tambourine of sorts, while Ali plays the kamancheh, a bowed string instrument, used in Middle Eastern music.

While the duo have performed together for various events, this was the first time they were collaborating outside their homeland and their first trip to India. “We travel regularly to a lot of foreign countries to conduct workshops and master classes and work with different music groups,” says Malekzadeh.

Malekzadeh who plays all manner of percussion instruments — drums, congas, cajons — says she fell in love with the daf when she was about 12. “I felt it keep time to the beat of my heart. It’s a dynamic instrument. I can play other instruments too, but the daf is special to me.”

For Seriri too, his enchantment with the kamancheh began as a preteen. “Most musicians back home play the kamancheh and daf; our traditional musical instruments.” “Ali began by playing the tombak (a goblet drum) as a child, before giving the kamancheh his heart and soul,“ says Malekzadeh, translating from Persian.

Ali Seriri at Avataran ‘22

Ali Seriri at Avataran ‘22 | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hailing from the city of Kermanshah, Seriri is a versatile musician who has performed with a number of international artistes. Over the past 10 years, apart from recording albums, he has also composed the scores for films in Iran.

Talking about what inspires her work with the daf, Malekzadeh says, ”I love the vibrations it produces; it is as though my heart is beating outside my chest.” While Malekzadeh’s creativity seems more hands-on, Seriri’s experience is rather transcendental. “Making music transports him to another realm,” she says.

Following their performance in India, Malekzadeh heads to Denmark for a recording. She also has an upcoming concert in France and workshop in Spain. Seriri on the other hand, heads back home to Tehran to compose tracks for an upcoming film.

Asal Malekzadeh at Avataran ‘22

Asal Malekzadeh at Avataran ‘22 | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Since its inception in 2015, October Octaves has always brought together musicians from different genres with aim to bring about musical awareness in the residents of the city. Titled ‘Avataran ‘22,’ this year’s event saw Rajhesh Vaidhya, Abhijith P.S Nair, Giridhar Udupa, Keith Peters, Jeoraj George, Sandeep Mohan, Mahesh Mani and Joe Johnson, perform with Malekzadeh and Seriri.

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