“One of the top oud players in the world” – San Francisco Chronicle
“Unique combination of traditional and innovative performance techniques. Alhaj’s spontaneous inventions are constantly fascinating.” – Los Angeles Times
NEA 2015 National Heritage Fellowship Award Recipient
Rahim AlHaj, virtuoso oud musician and composer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud (the grandfather of all stringed instruments) at age nine. Early on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent for playing the oud. Mr. Alhaj studied under the renowned Munir Bashir, considered by many to be the greatest oud player ever, and Salim Abdul Kareem, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, Iraq. Mr. AlHaj won various awards at the Conservatory and graduated in 1990 with a diploma in composition. He holds a degree in Arabic Literature from Mustunsariya University in Baghdad.
“There is no rock guitarist, no oud player, possibly no musician anywhere in the world with such subtle yet fearsome chops on a fretted instrument.” – New York Music Daily
Sahba Motallebi is an Iranian songwriter, Tar, Setar and Shoorangiz virtuoso and an internationally acclaimed musician. As a teenager in her native Iran she pushed against patrimonial restrictions and emerged as a dynamo on her instruments; when she was only 14 she began her studies at the Tehran Conservatory of Music and between the years 1995-98 she was a four-time winner as best tar player at the Iranian Music Festival (she also studied abroad, in Russia and Turkey). While still in school she cofounded the boundary-breaking female music ensemble Chakaveh; in 1999 she was invited to join the prestigious Iranian National Orchestra, which initiated her global performance career, and eventually led her to settle outside of Los Angeles, where she’s lived and played for over a decade, and has worked fastidiously to preserve traditional Persian classical music. She also extended her education in performance practice at CalArts. Motallebi has achieved extraordinary recognition as an expat and she’s been honored by performing with the great master Hossein Alizadeh.