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About The Performers
Mahsa Vahdat is an award-winning Iranian singer, composer and cultural activist dedicated to both her personal lifelong musical and artistic path and the greater cause of freedom of expression. Her artistic work has offered audiences around the globe a deeper appreciation of Iranian poetry and music.
Harpist Bridget Kibbey “…makes it seems as though the instrument had been waiting all its life to explode with the energetic figures and gorgeous colors she was getting from it” —The New York Times.
Called the “Yo-Yo Ma of the harp,” by Vogue Senior Editor Corey Seymour, Bridget Kibbey made her NPR Tiny Desk Debut last season. She is a winner of a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, a Salon de Virtuosi SONY Recording Grant, an artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and winner of Premiere Prix at the Journées de les Harpes Competition in Arles, France. Kibbey has fast gained a reputation for her diverse, energetic programming that spans the baroque, French Masterworks, and rhythmic migration in South America.
Shane Shanahan is a percussionist, composer, and arranger who has combined his studies of drumming traditions from around the world with his background in jazz, rock, and Western art music to create a unique, highly sought after style. He is one of Silkroad’s inaugural co-artistic directors, and has performed with Bobby McFerrin, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Philip Glass, Alison Krauss, Chaka Khan, and Deep Purple, among others, and has appeared at the White House, playing for President and First Lady Obama. He frequently hosts workshops and clinics at the world’s leading universities and museums and collaborates actively with the dance, theater, and yoga communities in the New York area, including several stints on Broadway.
Zara Houshmand is an Iranian American writer whose work bridges cultural divides and includes poetry, theatre, memoir, and literary translation. She was a pioneer in the use of virtual reality as an art form, and her installation Beyond Manzanar (with Tamiko Thiel), has been exhibited widely around the world. Her early work in theater led to award-winning translations of Bijan Mofid’s plays, and her own plays have been produced in Los Angeles and San Francisco. She worked with the Mind & Life Institute for two decades on books representing the Dalai Lama’s dialogues with Western scientists. Her collaborative writing includes A Mirror Garden, co-authored with Monir Farmanfarmaian (Knopf, 2007) and Running Toward Mystery, with the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi (Random House, 2020). Her most recent book is Moon and Sun (2020), a bilingual edition of her translations of Rumi’s rubaiyat.
Image: Mahsa Vahdat / photo by Tahmineh Monzavi