Pittsburgh group brings Persian sound to Stark

Justin Metz

Traditional music draws crowd of 300

A group of Iranian musicians played for more than 300 people at the Kent State Stark Campus yesterday afternoon. The concert, titled “Music of Persia,” featured a selection of songs showcasing Persian classical music.

While many in attendance came to hear music from a faraway land, others just wanted a taste of home.

“I came all this way to hear the traditional Persian music,” said Isaac Yomtovian, a Cleveland resident. “And it was excellent.”

Yomtovian, like many others who attended the concert, was born in Iran.

Sitting toward the back of the auditorium, he snapped his fingers and clapped along. During some songs, he even sang with the vocalists.

“Some of the later music that they played was from my teenage years,” Yomtovian said. “They were very familiar, and I could follow it very well.”

Music from Persia, which is modern-day Iran, has a history dating back thousands of years, according to information in the concert program. It is mainly played with string instruments such as the santoor, tar and setar. The rhythm of the music is played by a goblet-shaped drum called the tombak and a round frame-drum called the daf.

The group of nine musicians, who all live in the Pittsburgh area, plays together in their free time and doesn’t earn a living from playing its music.

“We don’t call it a hobby,” said Dariush Saghafi, the group’s award-winning santoor player. “This is our love of life. We are dedicated to music.”

Saghafi’s dedication is clear watching him play the santoor, an ancestor of the hammered dulcimer. With a focused stare, he strikes each string with speed and accuracy.

“I myself have been playing for so many years with the masters. I consider myself as proficient as anybody else,” said Saghafi.

The crowd seemed to agree with him. After more than two hours of music, the concert ended with a standing ovation.

Contact regional campuses reporter Justin Metz at [email protected].