Mohsen Namjoo is an Iranian artist, songwriter, singer, music scholar and setar (traditional Persian lute) player based in New York City. Hailed as “the Bob Dylan of Iran” by the New York Times, Namjoo is a visionary artist who speaks for the youth in Iran. Seamlessly blending the Classical Persian setar with electric guitar, and rock and blues vocal techniques with Persian avaz (singing), he fuses the ancient with the current. Since his arrival to the U.S. six years ago, Namjoo has been touring the world to sold out concerts at prestigious halls such as Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco; Conservatorio Sala Verdi, Milan, Italy; Disney Hall, Los Angeles; Sony Center for the Performing Arts, Toronto. Barbican Hall, London; Konserthuset, Stockholm; and Köln Philarmonie, Köln, Germany. He is currently on a European tour with the acclaimed Netherlands Blazers Ensemble (NBE). His latest album "Personal Cipher" was released on June 5th, 2016.
1993 Diploma in Mathematics, Jabbarian High School, Mashhad, Iran
1994 Theater, School of Drama, Art University of Tehran, Iran.
1995 Music, Department of Fine Arts, Tehran University, Iran.
2008 Basic Jazz, Prayner Conservatory, Vienna, Austria.
2009 Artist in residency, Stanford Humanities Center, Stanford University, California, USA.
2010-2011 Fellow, Department of Music, Stanford University, California, USA.
1995 - 2004 High School Persian Literature, part-time instructor, Tehran, Iran.
2001 - 2004 History of Iranian Music, University entrance exam (concours) preparation course, Tehran, Iran.
1999 - 2005 Singing and vocal exercises, Middle School extracurricular programs, Tehran, Iran.
1997 - 2006 Setar, traditional and pop singing, music theory and vocal exercise, private instructor, Tehran.
2003 - 2005 Elements of Quran singing (scales and pronunciation), private tutor, Tehran, Iran.
2010 Iranian Rhythms, Undergraduate workshop, Department of Music, Stanford U., California, USA.
2014 Visiting Scholar, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Brown University, Rhode Island, USA. Taught Courses: "Tradition and protest: Iranian and Persian music," Spring Semester. "Revolution and poets: Content and form in Iranian poetry," Fall semester.
Lectures, Workshops, and Master-classes
Oct 2008 "Formalistic approaches to the relation of Persian music and poetry," Lecture, Department of Iranian Studies, Stanford University.
Feb 2009 "Music in contemporary Iran," Pan-Asian music festival, Department of Music, Stanford U.
Sep 2009 "Art and politics after green movement," Seminar in festival, 66th Venice Film Festival, Italy.
Oct 2009 "Iranian Scales & American Blues," Lecture & performance, Humanities Center, Stanford U.
Nov 2009 "High pitch-Low pitch: Some points about sounds in Christian and Islamic music culture," Humanities Center, Stanford U.
Feb 2010 "Iranian irregular rhythms," Workshop, Department of Music, Stanford U.
Jan 2010 "Similarities between despotism and Classical repertoire (radif) of Iranian traditional music, Persian Society, University of California, Berkley.
Sep 2011 "Why can’t Iranians clap?" Iranian students roundtable, School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
Apr 2012 Three above lectures, Samuel Jordan Center for Iranian Studies, UC Irvine.
Fall 2012 "Theory of Iranian music," Master-class for Persian-speaking students, UC Berkeley.
Jan 2013 "Some points on the history of Iranian music," Department of Iranian Studies, Stanford U.
Jan 2013 "Relation between music and poetry in traditional music," Shiraz Arts Academy, San Jose, California.
Apr 2013 “New experiences in Namjoo’s music” Q & A with students, University of Memphis, Memphis.
Jun 2013 “Independent music in Iran,” Q & A with Rachel Cooper, Asia Society, New York
Oct 2013 “Iranian music and poetry,” Q & A with Students and fellows of Lausanne University, Switzerland.
Oct 2013 “Namjoo’s oeuvre,” Workshop and Q & A with students and fellows of Gothenburg University, Sweden.
Mar 2014 "Shahram Shabpareh, Honesty and Minor Scale, Spirit of Iranian Melancholy," Department of Middle Eastern Studies and Department of Music, Brown University.
Apr 2014 "East and West: Low pitch and High pitch," Department of Middle Eastern Studies and Department of Music, Brown University.
May 2014 "What are we talking about when we speak of fusion?" Department of Middle Eastern Studies and Department of Music, Brown University.
Nov 2014 "Underground music in Iran," Protest Music/music performance and social change: Pannel discussion with Erik Ehn and Joseph Rovan, School of Drama and Department of Music, Brown U.
Feb 2015 “The harmony between Iranian classical music and despotism,” Q & A with students of Munich University.
May 2015 "Independent music after the revolution," 2nd Conference of The Society for Studies in Persian Culture and History (SSIPCH), Sheratton Parkway Hotel, Toronto.
Sep 2015 Guest Lecturer, “Depoliticization of music in Iran,” course offered by Dr. Abbas Milani, Department of Iranian Studies, Stanford U.
Feb 2016 “On the depreciation and admiration of nostalgia," University of Brisbane, Australia.
Jun 2016 Q & A with students of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Sep 2016 Q & A with students of Virginia Tech University.
Oct 2016 Masterclass at Codarts University for the Arts, Rotterdam, Netherland.
Dec 2016 Guest lecturer, “Music of India and West Asia” Course offered by Prof. Alessandra Ciucci, Columbia University.
Mohsen Namjoo, “Revolution and Music: A personal odyssey,” Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran: Challenging the Status Quo, ed. Abbas Milani and Larry Diamond, USA: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2015.
Albums and Audio Books
2004 Gis, Solo performance, Tehran, unpublished.
2005 Damavand, Solo performance, Damavand, Iran, unpublished.
2006 Jabr, Vienna: Nedai Records, 2008.
2007 Toranj, Tehran: Barbad Music In. Best seller album of the year.
2008 "The Alchemist,” Audio book. Written by Paulo Coelho, translated by Arash Hejazi.Tehran: Caravan Publishing.
2009 Oy, Treviso, Italy: Stradivaris, 2010. Sponsored by Fabrica: United Colors of Benetton Communications Research Center.
2010 Useless Kisses, California: Payam Ent. Inc., 2011. Sponsored by Department of Music, Stanford U.
2011 Alaki, concert at Stanford University. California: Payam Ent. Inc.
2012 13/8, concert at University of Berkeley. California: Payam Ent. Inc.
2014 Trust the Tangerine Peel, New York: Audio and Video Labs Inc.
2016 Personal Cipher, New York and Toronto: Daf-Daf.
More than 150 concerts: solo, duet, trio, quartet, and full orchestra, the most significant of which include:
2008 Solo performance, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco.
2009 Group performance, The 66th Venice International Film Festival, and Conservatorio Sala Verdi, Milan.
2010 Group performance, Disney Hall, Los Angeles.
2010 Group performance, Sony Center for the Performing Arts, Toronto.
2011 Solo Performance, Barbican Hall, London.
2013 Group performance, Konserthuset, Stockholm.
2013 Group performance, Köln Philarmonie, Köln.
2015 Group performance, Congresium Concert Hall, Ankara.
2015 Group performance, Istanbul Congress Center, Istanbul.
2015 Group performance, VolksWagen Arena, Istanbul.
2016 Concert with the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble (NBE), ConcertGebouw, Amsterdam.
The critique and review of the educational books of Tonbak & Daf (Persian drums).
The phenomenology of the act of playing music.
The analysis of Jimmy Hendrix's pieces.
The concept of the soroud (anthem) and its meanings after the revolution.
Musical adaptations and assemblages.
The concept of expression in the aural imperative.
Basic elements of Tajweed (Quran reading and singing) with selections of verses for rhythm teaching.
The myth of the broken instrument in world literature.
Review of Pop Music in Iran.
“Death to America:” A discussion of rhythm and notation.
The relation between Iranian contemporary music and political power.
The lack of dominance in Iranian music: a comparison between high pitch and low pitch sounds.
Shahram Shabpareh: An inquiry into Iranian melancholy.
The pathology of the relation between Iranian music and poetry.
Review of Habib's pieces: Living in the major key.
The harmony between the classical repertoire of Iranian music and despotism.
On the depreciation and admiration of nostalgia.
Awards and Distinctions
2007 Toranj, Winner of the Most Influential Young Musician Award from Chelcheragh magazine, Iran.
2016 Radio Dreams, Best Actor Award, 37th Durban International Film Festival, South Africa.
2016 Selected as one of the top 10 candidates for the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, USA.
Soundtracks for Plays and Films
1996-2016 Music made for more than 30 plays, short movies, animations, TV programs and feature films.
Highlight of productions in Iran:
1996 "Something like life," Play by Hossein Panahi.
2003 "Whole," Animation by Vahid Nasirian.
2004 "I pray for your coming," Movie by Mohammad Sangouri.
2005 "Tekye Mellat," Play by Hossein Kiani.
2005 "Forgotten positives" Movie by Ali Atshani.
Highlight of Productions in the U.S.:
2010 "Neighbor," Feature film produced by Amir Naderi, directed by Naghme Shirkhan.
2011 "Over Ruled " Play by Shirin Neshat, New York: Performa Festival.
2015 "Damn Box," Play by Parviz Sayyad, California.
2015 "Passage through the world," Play by Shirin Neshat, Bari and Milan, Italy.
Selections of voice and music for movies:
2006 "Sound of Silence," Documentary by Amir Hamz and Mark Lazarz.
2009 "Not an illusion," Documentary by Torang Abedian.
2014 "A girl walks home alone at night," by Ana Lily Amirpour. Best movie award of Sundance Film Festival,
2016 “Decadence and Downfall: The Shah of Iran’s Ultimate Party,” BBC Four Documentary, Directed by Hassan Amini.
2004 "Few kilos of dates for a funeral," feature film by Saman Salur, Iran. Winner of Locarno and Edinburgh Film Festivals, 2006.
2012 "Jana and Baladour," Shadow-play by Bahram Beyzaie. Palo Alto, California.
2013 "Arash," Stage-reading by Bahram Beyzaie. Stanford University, California.
2014 "Radio Dreams," Feature film by Babak Jalali. Winner of the Gold Tiger at Rotterdam Film Festival, 2016.
Documentaries about namjoo
2005 "Equanimity by Diazepam 10," Documentary by Saman Salur, Tehran.
2016 "Ways of tolerances," Short documentary by Negar Behbahani and Reza Javadi, New York.
2017 "Mohsen in New York," Short documentary by Kamran Taheri Moghaddam. Forthcomming.
Participation in 12 Music Videos.
References, course syllabi, event links and programs will be available upon request.