You don’t need to be Iranian to appreciate the classical music of Homayoun Shajarian and Hesar Ensemble. The 36-year-old Shajarian started young, singing alongside his famous vocalist father Mohammad Reza Shajarian at age 10, and went on to study the fiddle-like kamancheh at the Tehran Conservatory of Music. After years performing behind his father, Shajarian finally stepped to the front of the stage on the 2001 Masters of Persian Music tour. Non-Farsi speakers should cast aside any fears of a language barrier: His dramatic, operatic delivery, combined with his ensemble’s urgent percussion and strings, bears cross-cultural appeal. That’s not to say he plays pop—his is modal music that does not use chords in the Western sense. But it is not atonal. In fact, Shajarian’s mournful vocal style has a lot in common with that of Jewish cantors. Although some might differ in their interpretations of Shajarian’s genre, most would agree that he’s one of its leading lights.
Homayoun Shajarian performs at 8 p.m. at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, 21st Street and H Street NW. $45–$65. lisner.org. (202) 994-6800.