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project: Vocodeliks

Vocalist & Performance Artist Sussan Deyhim
At UCLA Live

“[Sussan Deyhim creates] thrilling music that sounds in the ear long after you’ve left the show.” – The New York Times

Incorporating the ancient mysticism of Middle Eastern music with the wizardry of modern technology, songster Sussan Deyhim has lent her haunting and lushly layered vocal improvisations to Peter Gabriel’s score for “The Last Temptation of Christ” as well as to projects by Bobby McFerrin, Branford Marsalis, Mickey Hart, Bill Laswell and world-renowned Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat.

Deyhim’s last performance in Los Angeles was more than a decade ago. She returns with “Vocodeliks,” which is as much rooted in ancient rituals, as it is in her futuristic sonic vision. The first installment of her one-woman show was originally commissioned by the Whitney Museum of Art and Philip Morris in 1998. In her UCLA Live performance, Deyhim showcases her more experimental vocal soundscapes. Much of the music is also derived from her various excursions in film music, particularly her collaboration with Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat.

The second half of this program features Maya Beiser, former cellist for new music heroes Bang on a Can All-Stars, who has redefined her instrument with a repertoire that cuts across cultures and genres. Evocative, theatrical and spiritual, Beiser’s new multi-media solo concert features new works that were written for her by Osvaldo Golijov, David Lang and Louis Andriessen. She will also perform the Los Angeles premiere of a Steve Reich multi-track cello piece titled, “Cello Counterpoint.” This is the first piece Reich has written entirely for cello.

“‘Cello Counterpoint’ is one of the most difficult pieces I have ever written, calling for extremely tight, fast moving rhythmic relationships not commonly found in the cello literature,” says Reich.

Named after Lang’s composition and encompassing text, vocals, dramatic lighting and interactive videos, “World to Come” is Beiser’s personal exploration of the sounds and images of cello music for the 21st century through the works of some of our most esteemed living composers.

“When composers write music for me, I ask them to forget what they know about the cello, I hope to arrive at new territories, to discover sounds I have never heard before. I want to create endless possibilities with my cello. I become the medium, through which the music is being channeled, and in the process, when all is right, the music is transformed and so am I,” says Beiser.

Sussan Deyhim Biography
Born in Teheran to an old aristocratic family and the youngest of 11 children, Sussan Deyhim’s upbringing during the rule of the Shah of Iran was ultra-progressive. Her father was an economist, scientist and violinist; her house was filled with every conceivable style of music, old and new. Her life was consumed with ballet and her teacher was a choreographer who combined works by Stockhausen and Bartók with traditional and folk Persian music. Summers were spent at a special dance and arts camp at the Caspian Sea, and at the Shiraz Festival, the largest avant-garde gathering in the country, which featured the likes of Robert Wilson, John Cage and the Living Theater. By the time she met Maurice Bejart and was offered a scholarship to attend his School of Performing Arts in Brussels, Deyhim had been exposed to an amazing variety of music: from India, Egypt, Andalusia, and every part of her own country-the African-influenced styles and trance ceremonies of the south, Saudi Arabian, Kurdish, Luristani, Baluchistani, Afghani and the immigrant tribes of the central regions.

Deyhim studied and performed with Bejart’s Ballet of the Twentieth Century and had been dancing with the company for almost two years when she moved to New York and plunged into dance classes, only to realize that ballet was no longer her calling. Her opportunity arrived when she met and began working with Richard Horowitz, a musician, composer and producer schooled in free jazz, steeped in the music of Morocco and many other forms of what would become known as “world music.” Their collaboration would produce “Majoun” for Sony Classical, a unique synthesis that married the strains of traditional Middle Eastern music with cutting edge technology and a progressive sensibility.

Her appearances have ranged from productions such as John Claude van Italie’s “Tibetan Book of the Dead” at La Mama in New York to playing Euridice at La Scala in Milan, to performing with Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble to recording and performing as a soloist with Bobby McFerrin’s vocal ensemble. Deyhim wrote and performed the music in Shirin Neshat’s acclaimed short film, “Turbulent,” which has toured major international museums, with Deyhim also performing live in a solo piece at the museums called “Vocodeliks,” which will be featured with her UCLA Live concert.