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PYP Chamber Orchestra Explores Persian Music

This weekend you have an opportunity to watch the talented young musicians of the Portland Youth Philharmonic’s Chamber Orchestra as they spread their musical wings. For the lastest in their series of concerts at the Weiden+Kennedy building, the orchestra is embarking on a unique collaboration with father/son team Hossein and Bobak Salehi, performers of traditional Persian music.

They’ll perform a cultural mix, blending ancient Persian instruments with the violins and cellos you’d expect to see in a chamber orchestra. The concert will feature Henry Cowell’s exotic “Persian Set” and a premiere of Bobak Salehi’s original composition, “1001 Nights.”

“Bobak and Hossein are superb musicians and wonderful gentlemen and it’s just been a real privilege to get to know them,” says Portland Youth Philharmonic Musical Director David Hattner, who invited Bobak and Hossein to perform with PYP’s Chamber Orchestra.

Go See It!

PYP Chamber Orchestra: Persian Music

  • Sunday, January 29, 4 pm
  • Weiden + Kennedy Building, 224 NW 13th Avenue, Portland
  • Tickets: $15 students/seniors; $20 adults
  • Visit website

Bobak grew up in Southwest Portland. He studied classical violin for 15 years before making a stylistic and cultural shift to the ancient sounds of Persia, inspired by his father. The elder Salehi has been playing traditional Persian music since he was a young boy growing up in Iran, and he passed on his appreciation for the music of their ancestors to his son. He also taught Bobak how to play Middle Eastern instruments like the Santoor (a hammer dulcimer-like instrument) and the Ud (an ancestor to the lute).

Bobak immersed himself in his culture and quickly amassed a collection of instruments and songs. Now Bobak is composing new music in the ancient Persian style. His “1000 Nights” composition was commissioned for a theatrical production of the classic story, The Arabian Nights.

Hossein Salehi says this brief exploration of Persian music is an opportunity for the young musicians of PYP to build on their impressive list of musical experiences.

“What I would love to add is a little bit different spice to their repertoire,” he says. “They have already learned a lot; now they add a little bit more to it.”

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