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World Music Matters

Neshtiman - Musical encounters of the Kurdish kind

Audio 11:18

The Kurdish community is spread over four different countries - Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Because of the fragmented nature of Kurdistan, its music is not very well known. Hussein Zahawy, an Iraqi Kurdish percussionist living in London, wanted to change that. He recently founded a group called "Neshtiman", meaning homeland. 


The three main Kurdish languages - Sorani spoken in Iraq, Kalhori in Iran and Kurmanji spoken in Turkey and Syria are represented in the seven-piece band.

"The different languages mean there are different styles of music, dances, cultures…but there’s one root with different leaves and branches," Zahawy explains.

Neshtiman combines joyful, energetic melodies often played in the villages of  the upper valleys of the Kurdish mountains with the subtle poetry of sacred sufi music.

Goran Kamil (oud), Erlan Tekin (zorna), Hussein Zahawy (daf, darbouka), Maryam Ebrahimpour (vocals) Sohrab Pournazeri (kamanché, vocals) are joined by Robin Vassy (African percussion) and Leila Renault (double bass) from France.

The music is festive and celebratory, and the band’s sole aim is to bring it to a wider audience.

RFI met the band at the recent Au Fil des Voix festival ahead of their first performance in Paris.

Music in the programme is from their debut album Neshtiman, due out in the Spring.

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