Niyaz: Persian-Indian Electronica, Sufi Mysticism in Goodhart

Posted February 15th, 2010 at 6:36 pm.

Photo of Nitaz by Austin YoungPersian-Indian electronica band Niyaz, fronted by spellbinding vocalist Azam Ali, performs at Bryn Mawr College’s Goodhart Theater at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27.

Tickets to individual events in the Performing Arts Series are $18 for the general public, $15 for seniors and Dance Pass holders, $10 for students, $5 for children 12 and under, and free for Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore College students, faculty, and staff. Online ticketing through www.brownpapertickets.com For phone orders and information, call the Office for the Arts at (610) 526-5210 or visit www.brynmawr.edu/calendar/performing_arts.shtml for full season information.

Niyaz, which also features multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian and producer and synthesizer programmer Carmen Rizzo, blends modern electronica with 300-year-old Persian folk songs to create unique “world music for the 21st century.”

The band’s 2005 self-titled debut featured its signature blend of Sufi mysticism and trance electronica, and quickly established Niyaz as a standout ensemble in a very crowded world-music field. Its latest album, Nine Heavens, cements the “Niyaz vibe, a mesmerizing fusion of Urdu and Persian mystical poetry and remarkably consonant electronica in support of Ali’s beguiling vocals,” wrote Billboard‘s Phillip Van Vleck.

Ali was born in Iran and raised in India, and the music of Niyaz—which means “yearning” in both Farsi, the language of Iran, and Urdu, a major language of northern India and Pakistan—reflects both cultural traditions. Working against negative stereotypes has become part of the band’s mission. “In many ways, my life’s work has become about this,” Ali said.”You know, create something that transcends religion and culture and show people that at the core we are all the same.”

Currently based in Los Angeles, Niyaz just completed a tour of Europe and Turkey. Their Bryn Mawr appearance will be the only one in the Philadelphia area.

Visit the Niyaz Web site at www.niyazmusic.com. Hear two nationally broadcast NPR interviews with Niyaz at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95607779 and http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4623214&ps=rs

Niyaz is appearing in the area at the same time that the Free Library of Philadelphia has chosen Persepolis, a memoir by Marjane Satrapi  about growing up in Iran during a time of political revolution and repression, for the One Book, One Philadelphia program. Material about One Book, One Philadelphia will be available at the performance.

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