Getty Villa’s Open-Air Persian Concerts Feature Fared Shafinury, Awardwinning Setar Virtuoso

By Fred Parvaneh

On June 25, 2022, Farhang Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to celebrate and promote Iranian art and culture, presented their second concert in a series at the Getty Villa’s open-air amphitheater. The headlining artist was Fared Shafinury, an award-winning Persian setar virtuoso, composer and vocalist.

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“Persia After Hours” is a series of events held at the Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades, California, in conjunction with the exhibition “Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World,” a scholarly display of ancient Persian, Greek, and Roman artifacts.

The third and final “Persia After Hours” event will be held on July 16th, featuring: Mehrdad Arabi, Khosro Ansari, Hamed Poursaee, Shayandokht Abedinimanesh, Sholeh Wolpe, and director André Megerdichian.

The events are presented in collaboration with the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Raha International, and the Getty Museum.

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Shafinury introduces the classical and folk sounds of Iran to audiences. In the past 20 years, through his discography, multi-media projects, and live concerts, he has presented a contemporary yet ancient face of Iran, charting a path of experimentation with a deep respect for and understanding of tradition.

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He has created a thriving online community known as the Radif Retreat Institute along the Gulf of Mexico, where he teaches a wide array of students from across the Iranian diaspora and beyond using a bilingual and multicultural approach.

To accompany the Getty Villa concert, Shafinury gave audience members a book of poetry containing the original Persian poetry of Rumi, as well as his own original English translations.

“Throughout history,” said Shafinury, there have been beacons who light the way for others to follow. Rumi is one of them. He writes of a limitless, eternal love that is all-encompassing and void of judgment.”

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Kayhan Life spoke to the artist after the concert.

You dedicated your performance of “The Beloved” to the ancient wisdom of Persian poet, Rumi. How has Rumi’s poetry inspired the performance?

“The Beloved” is a concept of eternal love for the divine, where all worldly attachments and relationships take on a higher and celestial meaning. When I was approached by the Getty Institute and Farhang Foundation, I realized that my music would be paired both to the historical ancient lineage of my ancestors, and to the current times we live in today.

In a world where humans remain cruel to each other and to the Earth, some of the more iconic and well-known poems of Rumi spoke to me as a correct antidote. I was inspired to convey this wisdom of love and acceptance through this performance, which truly took on a more divine tone.

What was it like to perform at the Getty Villa Museum?

Working with the Getty was a real treat, where I was granted the opportunity to collaborate and co-create with an expert team of art curators. I was proud of the stellar team that helped me bring to fruition this message and performance. In particular, highlighting the role of women in classical Persian arts was of the utmost importance to me.

More video and images from the event: