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Portland Persian Party celebrates Iranian music, food, culture on Saturday, Aug. 24 at Pioneer Square

COURTESY PHOTO  - The Daneshvar Family Ensemble will perform during the Portland Persian Party Aug. 24. The festival is free and open to all. The Andisheh Center, a nonprofit organization with a mission to celebrate and promote Iranian culture, heritage and arts, will present the Portland Persian Party on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Pioneer Courthouse Square, in Portland.

The event is free and open to all, and showcases many aspects of Iranian culture, including music and dance, food and beverages and traditional clothing.

Performing Iranian folk dances will be BlueScarf, a local group composed of Iranian professionals in a variety of fields who are passionate about dance. They perform at festivals, sharing a snapshot of music and dances from all regions of Iran, including Gilaki, Azari, Kurdish, Lori and Bakhtiari.

Musicians Mehdi Bagheri and the Daneshvar Family Ensemble also will perform.

Bagheri is a kamancheh virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist. A kamancheh is a long-necked stringed instrument with a bowl-shaped body, traditionally featuring three silk strings but now more often four metal ones, played with a bow.

Bagheri is fast becoming one of the most renowned practitioners of the Persian instrument of his generation. He was born in Kermanshah, Iran, in 1980, and received his master's degree from Arak University in 2004, studying Kayhan Kalhour and Ardeshir Kamkar, luminaries of traditional Iranian music, while simultaneously pursuing a degree in dramatic theater.

He has performed worldwide at festivals such as the Oslo World Music Festival in Norway; the Morgenland Festival in Osnabruck, Germany; and has appeared at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the Asian Society in Houston, Texas; and the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Among his most important works are the recording and publishing of the Radif by Maestro Ali Akbar Khan Shahnazi, the old melodic figures preserved through many generations by oral tradition.

Bagheri lives in Southern California where he shares his music through a broad range of performance, recording and educational practices.

The Daneshvar Family Ensemble is composed of sisters Parvaneh and Parisa and brothers Babak and Behnam Daneshvar. Babak, the oldest of the siblings, plays the santour, a hammered dulcimer of Mesopotamian origin. It is a trapezoid box zither with a walnut body and 92 steel (or bronze) strings. The strings, tuned to the same pitch in groups of four, are struck with two wooden mallets called "midhrab."

Parvaneh plays tar and setar. A tar is an Iranian long-necked, waisted instrument. A setar also is a member of the lute family, played with the index finger of the right hand.

Behnam plays tombak, a goblet drum that is considered the principal percussion instrument of Persian music.

Parisa plays ney, an end-blown flute.

The siblings formed the group in 2002, and also have established a music school, the Daneshvar Music Institute in Zanjan, where they all teach music to children on a variety of instruments.

In 2006, Bagheri was added to the group. He also is a composer and Parisa's husband.

The free festival is presented each year in an effort to promote Iranian culture.

The Andisheh Center's vision is to be the most influential organization in the Northwest promoting Iran's rich artistic and multicultural heritage, engage the younger generation and cultivate a strong connection to the community at large.

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