Presented by Sangeetha Ekambaram and Reza Filsoofi
Iranian multi-instrumentalist, singer, and composer Reza Filsoofi, multidisciplinary singer and dancer Sangeetha Ekambaram, and pianist Jennifer McGuire collaborate to present Imagining Shéhérazade in Exile. In conjunction with Raqib Shaw: Ballads of East and West, this performance blends musical tradition with cross-cultural innovation in an emotional narrative focused on themes of home, exile, and the power of imagination. The performance also features contemporary choreography by Becca Hoback and Iranian/Persian-inspired choreography by Geeti Shirazi Mahajan.
About Sangeetha Ekambaram
Indian American soprano Sangeetha Ekambaram’s interdisciplinary and multicultural background has led her to a rich and varied performance career as a classical singer. Based in Nashville, Ekambaram most recently produced Peripheral Convergence—a combination of classical art song, contemporary dance, digital art, and spoken word. The piece also premiered as a part of OZ Arts’s Brave New Works Lab. Frequently performing in solo and collaborative concerts, the latest season included: Fuego Flamenco Cante, a program of Spanish classical music with celebrated San Antonio-based flamenco singer Chayito Champion, Sure on this Shining Night with the Visionary Vocal Collaborative, and chamber music concerts with the Leela Trio. Ekambaram performed her original composition Imagining Shéhérazade as both dancer and singer alongside multicultural artists and in partnership with nonprofits Elmahaba and Nour Nashville.
In the opera scene, Ekambaram recently performed the role of Chrysothemis in A Look at Elektra (New York Chamber Music Festival) and Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief with Opera Huntsville. She returns to the New York Chamber Music Festival in Fall 2023 for a program of French operatic duets, performing excerpts from Thaïs, Manon, and Faust. Other recent performances include Nashville Opera’s annual Opera on the Mountain, the Evolution of Ingenue with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, and the opening gala concert at the Amadeo Bassi Festival. She also performed the role of Cinderella in Martin Warren’s The True Story of Cinderella with Opera Huntsville. Other favorite roles include Mimì (La Bohème, Festival di Ostra), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Antonia (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Madame Herz (Der Schauspieldirektor), to name a few.
Ekambaram has collaborated with such artists as Craig Ketter and Anthony Gian diTomasso, and she appears on an album of duets by Heinrich Marschner (Centaur Records), released in January 2021. She was recently recognized as one of the winners of the Anonymous Audition Project as well as the Latin American and Iberian Art Song Challenge. This past year, she founded the Visionary Vocal Collaborative, a vocal ensemble dedicated to exploring all the ways that “voice matters in empowering individuals and creating connection.”
About Reza Filsoofi
Born in Tehran, Reza Filsoofi began his musical journey in Iran under the tutelage of master musicians such as Zarrabian, Shoaari, and Arash Farhangfar, and under the supervision of the great master Naser Farhangfar. Filsoofi plays santoor and setar, along with principal percussive instruments such as daf and tonbak. He has performed with masters such as Davood Azad, Faramarz Aslani, and Ardeshir Farah. His collaboration with Davood Azad in 2015 in the Asia Society and Museum in New York City and in the Sivanasda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas have been his milestone professional achievements.
Since Filsoofi moved to the United Sates in 2001 he has been actively teaching and performing. His versatile musical style combined with his expansive knowledge of different classical instruments have given him opportunities to collaborate with artists and musicians in projects such as World and Melody with Iranian actress and playwright Soheila Ghodstinat, American dancer and choreographer Roshana Nofret in the Sephardic Music Project, Cuban singer Susana Behar and Spanish composer and flamenco guitarist Jose Louis De la Paz, Trio FEZ, and the Middle-Eastern Music Performance with Armenian American musician Joe Zeytounian and Cuban performer Myriam Eli.
Filsoofi currently lives in Nashville. He is the director of the Caravan Ensemble, which promotes Iranian music and culture in the United States.