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The Poetic Voice: Persian Singing Workshops with Mahsa Vahdat

Register here [1].

Mahsa Vahdat leads a series of inclusive virtual workshops exploring freedom of vocal expression inspired by Persian poetic verses

About this event

The Kitka Institute is pleased to offer a new series of vocal workshops with renowned Persian vocalist, cultural activist, and master teacher, Mahsa Vahdat.

This inclusive workshop series, supported by a grant from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts’ Living Cultures Program, welcomes vocalists of all ages, backgrounds, genders, geographies, and levels of experience. Admission is by freewill donation, with no one turned away for lack of funds.

In each workshop, participants will discover new paths to freedom of vocal expression using the texts of Persia’s great historical and contemporary poets (Hafez, Rumi, Khayyam, Jafari, Farokhzad, and others) as sources of inspiration.

All workshops will be held on the Zoom platform. Links to each Zoom meeting and song resources folders will be shared with all registrants prior to each workshop.

Each workshop will be unique. Interested participants can sign up for the 2-workshop series, or individual classes.


Mahsa Vahdat is a prominent performer of Persian vocal music and strong advocate of freedom of expression in music, a dedicated singer and musician in her musical path and artistic cause. Her career has given a deeper knowledge about Iranian poetry and music to large audiences in Europe, America, Asia, Oceania and Africa.

Mahsa has developed her personal style based on the Persian vocal tradition of classical and regional folk music, but with a contemporary expression. She has always searched for ways to make her music relevant to the present world. Even if the origin of her styles is Iranian, she believes in her music’s ability to express a universal message of humanism and freedom. Her collaboration with musicians from Iran and many other parts of the world has contributed to the development of her personal expression.

Mahsa was born in Tehran. She entered Tehran Arts University in 1993 and graduated with a B.A. in Music in 1995. Since 1995 she has performed as an independent singer and musician in many concerts and festivals in Asia, Europe, America and Africa together with musicians from Iran, Europe and the US. She has also appeared on stage with her sister Marjan Vahdat in many concerts. In several of her recordings Marjan also has been involved.

Mahsa composes most of her songs herself, often with poems by classical Persian poets like Hafez and Rumi or contemporary ones like Fourogh Farokhzad and Mohammad Ibrahim Jafari. Her husband Atabak Elyasi who is a composer and also plays the Persian string instrument setar often takes part in the arranging of her music. Without being visible in her own society because of restrictions of female solo voice after Islamic Revolution in 1979 in Iran, she and her sister Marjan Vahdat have continuous contact with a large audience who appreciates their art, both in Iran and abroad.

Following her participation in the album Lullabies from the Axis of Evil (2004), Mahsa started a long lasting collaboration with the Norwegian record label Kirkelig Kulturverksted (KKV) and its leader Erik Hillestad who has produced most of her albums. This collaboration led to a worldwide release of a series of award wining and critically acclaimed records and a number of tours and concerts in many countries.

Recent award-winning albums by Mahsa include “The Sun Will Rise”, “Placeless” a collaboration with Kronos Quartet and Marjan Vahdat, and “Enlighten The Night.” In 2021, Mahsa also published a songbook, also entitled “Enlighten the Night.”

This project has been made possible by a grant from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, in partnership with the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Grants for the Arts, and The California Endowment.

Photo of Mahsa Vahdat by Tamineh Monzavi