Elshan Ghasimi

"In her playing [...] every phrase is invested with deep thought and grave authority" - Michael Church, Musics Lost and Found (2021)

Elshan Ghasimi (*1981 in Isfahan, Iran) is a master of the tar, a long-necked Iranian lute instrument, and of Persian classical art music, as well as a composer, performance artist and educator. She works in meeting spaces of tradition and modernity, West and East, music and other art forms. Language, music, physicality and dramatic expression as parts of a (cultural) whole form the basis of her work, which also embraces the visual arts - for example in the album, concert and exhibition cycle Elies Miniatures, in which Ghasimi shapes pieces from an estate into musical experience.

Her approach is greatly influenced by the tradition and practice of the radīf, the repertoire of Persian classical music, which is imparted from master to student through years of immersion and familiarisation and which she is the first female musician to reinterpret over the course of a large-scale project. Her original compositions combine poetry and conceptual art with an individual engagement with her audience and fellow musicians, a purely human encounter at eye level.

Elshan Ghasimi began her training at the age of nine at the Tehran Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Majid Vasefi, Reza Vohdani and Fariborz Azizi as well as the masters Houshang Zarif and Hossein Alizadeh. At 17, she became the youngest member of the Iranian National Orchestra (1998-2006) under the direction of Farhad Fakhreddini, before continuing her studies at the Tehran University of Art and Sculpture. During her studies, Ghasimi deepened her knowledge of Iranian philosophy, literature and poetry, the radīf, improvisation and tar playing with masters such as Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Dariush Pirniakan and Dariush Talai. The bilingual musician, who grew up speaking Farsi and Azerbaijani, further broadened her education in Baku by studying the Caucasian Tar and the muǵam, the repertoire of classical Azerbaijani music.

She has been living in Germany since 2016, where she composes for and performs with ensembles such as Concerto Köln and Ensemble ɛkstʁaktə, while also performing as a soloist. Furthermore, she passes on her knowledge in the context of teaching assignments, as most recently at the University of Marburg.

On the occasion of the exhibition Iran - Art and Culture from Five Millennia, Elshan Ghasimi composed to various artefacts from the London Sarikhani Collection and the Museum of Islamic Art. The documentary was created in cooperation with the filmmakers Stark & Shakupa and the DUAT Agency.