Sahba Motallebi News

Sahba Motallebi and Rahim AlHaj

Sahba Motallebi and Rahim AlHaj at Merkin Hall

February 29, 2020, by Steve Capra, World Music Central

Even the instruments were beautiful at The World Music Institute’s presentation of Sahba Motallebi and Rahim AlHaj in concert at Merkin Hall on February 15th. Ms. Motallebi, who is Iranian, played the tar. A tar, she explained, is any stringed instrument. Yet the term seems to apply more narrowly to her instrument, a classical instrument with adjustable frets. It had a lovely hourglass shape, with six strings, made of mulberry wood, walnut wood and camel bone.

Mr. AlHaj, who is Iraqi, played an oud with a neck that curved backwards at the top, where the tuning pegs are. An oud is fretless, with six double strings. He told us the oud is “the king of the string instruments”.

No Limits In Toronto For Female Iranian Musicians

No Limits In Toronto For Female Iranian Musicians

August 24, 2018

17th Annual Small World Music Festival Celebrates Cultural Diversity

Toronto’s Small World Music Festival just celebrated its 17th edition. Inspired by WOMAD this year the event paid tribute to world music’s legacy and cultural diversity through film, conversation and music at various venues across the city including the Harbourfront Centre. A program highlight was an instrumental Persian music performance by two supremely talented Iranian musicians, Sahba Motallebi and Naghmeh Farahmand.

Sahba Motallebi, Master Of The Persian Tar

FOLK FEATURE: Sahba Motallebi, Master Of The Persian Tar | Richmond Folk Festival

October 7, 2017, by ANDY GARRIGUE Special correspondent

Sahba Motallebi’s journey to the Richmond Folk Festival began in Sari, a seaside city in northern Iran, at age 11. It was there that she began to play the setar, a small four-stringed Persian instrument with a paired bass string.

By age 14, she exhibited enough talent to be invited to leave her home and study at the Tehran Conservatory of Music. At 15, she started on the tar, a six-stringed Persian instrument, with each of the strings paired.

Sahba Motallebi performing with the tar

A crash course in culture through music

September 12, 2017, by Hannah Maes, Arts and Rec Editornd gravida

After years of struggle in a war-torn Middle Eastern country, Persian musician Sabha Motallebi moved to the U.S. to continue her musical journey.

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students will have the opportunity to hear the music inspired by her struggles firsthand Sept. 19 at the annual World Music Festival in the Young Auditorium, a cultural event hosted on campus featuring Persian musician Motallebi. Accompanying her will be percussionist Naghmeh Farahmand, who specializes in Persian rhythms and Middle Eastern and Oriental vocals.

Thrills and Transcendence at Tar Lute Virtuoso Sahba Motallebi’s New York Debut

October 21, 2016, by Delarue, New York Music Daily

Sahba Motallebi hit a sharp staccato chord on her Iranian tar lute. Then she paused, Then she hit another one. Then another pause, then another stilletto swipe. Then she lit into a seemingly endless flurry of righthand chord-chopping that made Dick Dale’s pick-melting intensity seem wimpy by comparison. A series of minutely nuanced harmonics, meticulously precise pull-offs and hammer-ons followed that. The crowd was silent, completely mesmerized. 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.

That was the just intro to the fiery, ecstatically crescendoing birth narrative by the Teheran-born virtuoso at her sold-out New York debut at Symphony Space Friday night. She reprised that opening theme as a lively, peek-a-boo shout-out to her two young daughters at the end of roughly ninety minutes onstage, a duo set with another Iranian expat woman, percussionist Naghmeh Farahmand. It’s impossible to imagine a more exhilarating, transcendent performance by another artist in this city this year. Back in the 90s in her native Iran, Motallebi generated a controversy that wouldn’t exist here by winning the Iranian setar showdown three years in a row – as a woman. Beyond sheer adrenaline, this was a raised middle finger at the Islamofascists who won’t let women perform unaccompanied by a man.