Atabak Elyasi

Persian Setar Music

Iranian-American musician and composer Atabak Elyasi, of Berkeley, is a master of the Persian setar — the instrument most commonly used to accompany the voice in traditional Persian music. Atabak has played and performed Setar for the majority of his life and has been teaching this sacred instrument for at least 30 years, passing on this lineage to innumerable students. Atabak has worked on several renowned musical projects with 2018 ACTA mentor artist Mahsa Vahdat and her sister Marjan as a setar player, composer and musical arranger, as well as arranging pieces for the Skruk Choir in Norway and the Kronos Quartet.



Persian Setar Music 
with Adrienne Shamszad

In 2020, Atabak will work with apprentice Adrienne Shamszad, who was a 2018 ACTA apprentice to Mahsa Vahdat in Persian vocals. Atabak will deepen her practice in Persian traditional music and the instrumental Radif (or Persian repertoire), and offer a focus on technique of the setar. They will be focused on mastery of both left hand and right hand player, performing metric and non metric pieces, and specific ornamentations which are fundamental to the expression of Persian traditional music. All of these techniques will lead toward the ultimate goal of musical expression in this particular art form: improvisation.

“Caravan,” from the album I am Eve by Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat, which was composed and arranged by Atabak Elyasi.

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