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IRAQ meets IRAN in Musical Dialogue. Two Remarkable String Masters Together on Stage

Rahim AlHaj and Sahba Motallebi.jpg

Iraqi oud maestro, composer, NEA National Heritage Fellow and two-time Grammy nominee Rahim AlHaj performs in collaboration with the amazing Iranian tar virtuoso Sahba Motallebi.


Select dates in 2022-23.


Rahim and Sahba will share the stage and perform separately and together.  We are now seeking offers on this incredible duo from those wanting to present an intense and timely musical dialogue.  




Sahba Motallebi 

Recognized internationally as a modern virtuoso of the tar and setar, lute-like stringed instruments central to one of the world’s great musical traditions, Sahba Motallebi began studying music as a young girl in Sari, Northern Iran.


In 1993, at age 14, her talent garnered an invitation to study at the Tehran Conservatory of Music. She flourished, was recognized as Best Tar Player at the Iranian Music Festival four years running (1995-1998). After graduating from Conservatory in 1997, she co-founded the groundbreaking women’s music ensemble Chakaveh. In 1999 she joined the Iranian National Orchestra, beginning her career as an international performer. She left Iran in 2003 to pursue graduate studies, closed to her there due to her Bahai’i faith.


Rahim AlHaj

Oud musician and composer Rahim AlHaj began playing oud at   the age of nine, going on to study under Munir Bashir at Baghdad Institute of Music and receiving various awards there.  In 1991, post-first Gulf War, Rahim was forced to leave Iraq due to activism against the Baath regime. He moved to US in 2000 as a political refugee.  


Considered one of the world’s finest oud players, Rahim has recorded and performed with other master musicians of varied backgrounds and styles including guitarist Bill Frisell, accordionist Guy Klucevsek, sarod player Amjad Ali Khan and indie-rockers REM.  He has composed pieces for solo oud, trio, string quintet, symphony, etc. Delicately combining traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary styling/influence, his pieces establish new concepts without altering foundation of traditional “Iraqi School of Oud”. His compositions evoke the experience of exile, consequences in post-war reality and new beginnings. Rahim has released 13 CDs, receiving two Grammy nominations. 

Rahim AlHaj and Sahba Motallebi Live


Select Past Dates

Merkin Concert Hall - New York, NY

Musical Instrument Museum - Phoenix, AZ

Kirkland Performance Center - Kirkland, WA

University of Portland - Portland, OR

Freight & Salvage - Berkeley, CA
St John's Episcopal Church - Kalamazoo, M!
Old Town School - Chicago, IL


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