The Skirball’s Sunset Concerts—FREE Thursday night performances of the best in American and world music—continue this week with beloved Iranian singer Mamak Khadem, accompanied by an ensemble of world-class musicians. Each week, SkirBlog will feature a preview of the upcoming performer written by a member of our Programs department. Read about the band, view photos and videos … then make your way here on Thursday to watch the show in our magnificent outdoor courtyard. Mamak Khadem and Ensemble, this Thursday, August 15, at 8:00 p.m.
Persian vocalist and musician Mamak Khadem is one of my favorite performers in Los Angeles. Her distinctive, passionate voice is stunning and clear—it truly opens my heart. Aside from her voice, what I love about Mamak is her versatility and her ability to connect different cultures and music traditions to create something new and unique. Throughout her career, Mamak’s work has primarily focused on reimagining Persian music and poetry and revitalizing it for the next generation of Iranians, as well as introducing new art forms to a cross-cultural audience.
While she has performed several times at the Skirball—whether as a member of Axiom of Choice, as a solo artist with her own ensemble, or as a guest of another artist—each time Mamak performs she brings something new and invigorating to the stage. I’m excited that she has developed a special concert of upbeat dance music, blending Iranian, Armenian, and Greek traditions, for the Skirball’s Sunset Concert series on August 15.
Along with her soaring vocals, Mamak employs rhythmically entrancing percussion and some very cool Middle Eastern instruments in her music. My favorite is the zurna, a wind instrument that to me sounds like a magic horn. It’s historically played during festive events, which makes sense because when the zurna starts playing, the crowd goes wild—everyone gets up and starts dancing! ! I defy you to resist the powers of the zurna!
To prepare you for a full night of night of dancing, Mamak has arranged for an informal dance lesson before the concert, so show up early to learn the basic steps. See you on the dance floor!
Watch this video of Mamak Khadem performing “Bigharar (Restless Yearning)” featuring some good zurna: