Shirzad Sharif is a Persian percussionist and string musician currently residing in San Francisco. The musician has recently released his first solo album called the Alchemist, featuring beautiful Persian sacred music and dreamscape electronic music arranged for Tanbur, Daf, Tonbak, Kemanche and Setar.
A man of many talents, Shirzad is also the musical director of Somma and Somma Dub Ensemble (Dubistan) which has produced some of the most progressive Persian music on the market today.
I recently interviewed him. I invite you to read and familiarize yourself with this Iranian musician who is a member of Iranian troupe cooperation to keep the Iranian music blooming and alive.
Milad Molavi (MM): Who is Shirzad Sharif?
Shirzad Sharif (SS): I was born in Tehran, Iran during the time of the revolution and grew up in Iran during the war and afterwards learning music.
MM: Where do you live now, and why you are there?
SS: I am currently a resident of San Francisco and have been here for over six years. Being here in San Francisco has been great since there are a lot of amazing musicians to work with and San Francisco has always been a mecca for visionary artists and musicians making it a center for cutting edge music and art.
MM: What is story of your immigration?
SS: I think it’s the story of all immigrants which was to follow my dreams and experience freedom of expression.
MM: Tell us a little about how you got started with music?
SS: Well, I was really fortunate to have been raised in a family which highly valued excellence in art and the beauty of Persian classical music. In our immediate family my grandfather played the Tar and my grandmother played the Tonbak in the style of Ostad Tehrani very well and also played the violin. When I was a small kid I used to just be mesmerized by her fingers on the drum and all the amazing sounds she would make with this drum. Also during the family music gatherings (“bazms”) I would be in awe of the drummers who used to accompany the great Ostad Farhang Sharif. Since childhood, I set my mind on playing Tonbak however I was fascinated in world music as well and used to daydream what it would be like to play Tonbak with other music.
MM: Please describe your special trainings and educations in Music/art?
SS: I was very lucky to have had the honor of having the legendary Grand Master Ostad Bahman Rajabi lay the Tonbak for the first time on my lap. He taught me all I know as well as how to be a true artist and human being. I later furthered my study of Persian percussion by learning the daf and tanbur which I had a number of teachers, one whom which is the great Ostad Ali Akbar Moradi. After coming to the United States and playing with musicians of other nationalities I became interested in learning Arabic percussion and studied Darabuka (Arabic Drum) and Riqq (Tambourine) with Mary Ellen Donald.
MM: What is your motivation to music?
SS: My main focus has always been creativity and innovation as well as researching new possibilities of expanding ones mind.
MM: What does it take to become a musician?
SS: Being a true artist or musician requires a lot of dedication, patience, talent, hard work and humility. Also I think it’s even more special being a Persian classical musician since it requires certain emphasis on spirituality and humanity.
MM: Who are your favorite Iranian and American musician