Tsai Performance Center
685 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
Art, History, Music, Shows
Join us for a soulful musical performance featuring Arab-Iranian singer Mina Deris, Payam Yousefi (kamancheh), and Witness Matlou (piano). This performance explores the liminal spaces at the intersection of Iranian and jazz musical improvisation. Drawing on contemporary poetry, Mina Deris sings through the current events unfolding in Iran while drawing inspiration from the poetry and melodies of Kurdish, Arab, and Persian music.
Mina Deris, one of the singers in the well-known documentary "Female Voices of Iran", was born in 1981 during Iran and Iraq war. She started showing her talent in singing at the age of 5. Later on at school she was chosen as the best singer among other students and won the competition. At the age of 15 she was impressed by the charm of Arab music and it’s rhythm. Also she was inspired by the great Arab singer Umm Kulthum. Due to the fact that her hometown is Abadan which is located in the south of Iran, she was so passionate about Arabic classic music(maqam). Furthermore Arabic is her mother tongue. She started to pursue her enthusiasm for music after university by learning Iranian classic music with Master Hengameh Akhavan and Master Farhang Sharif.
Later on as she got well known among different musicians and bands ,she joined some Pop, Folk and Fusion Iranian music bands. Then in 2014 she was graduated from Music Conservatory of Tehran. Having researched on old Arab melodies from the south ,she has been trying to mix these melodies with electronic style which enhance more impressive mood in new generation.
Mina Deris has performed a lot of concerts in Iran and other countries such as Qatar, Turkey, Italy, Germany. In 2017 she’s had her first acting experience in a play about homeless women as an actress and a singer. She is now the lead singer of Novak Ensemble since 2016 and has many single tracks and an album called “Agitation” with this band.
Payam Yousefi (M.A. UCLA, 2015) is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at Harvard University. His primary research interests include the classical, regional, and sacred musics of Iran. More broadly his work focuses on affective musical communities, women’s vocality, transmission, and the intersections of music and power. Payam’s current research centers on the politics of style in classical Persian music—critically examining the exclusionary aesthetics of competing musical styles while highlighting how creative practices strategically mediate the semantics of style to project subversive notions of self, nation, and global membership. Whether he is playing the kamancheh, making ethnographic films, writing, or teaching Payam is entangled in the endless pursuit of unraveling the many meanings of music.
Witness Matlou is a pianist, composer, and bandleader. He has performed nationally and internationally. His music is influenced by South African traditional, folk, jazz, and classical music. He received his bachelor's degree from Berklee College of Music in performance and jazz composition with a minor in philosophy. He also received his master's degree from Berklee in contemporary performance (global jazz concentration), studying with Danilo Pérez, Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, and George Garzone.
In 2018, Matlou was awarded the Harvard South African Fellowship and accepted into the special student program at Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. There, he engaged in scholarly work and research under the guidance of acclaimed linguist John Mugane, with Matlou's research focusing on the interdependence of music in retaining African languages and cultural identity.
Matlou has performed at the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the DC Jazz Festival, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and the North Sea Jazz Festival (Rotterdam, Netherlands).