Sahba Motallebi is recognized internationally as a modern virtuoso of the tar and setar, lute-like stringed instruments central to one of the world’s great musical traditions. She began studying music as a young girl in Sari, Northern Iran.
In 1993, at age 14, her talent garnered an invitation to study at the Tehran Conservatory of Music. She flourished, was recognized as Best Tar Player at the Iranian Music Festival four years running (1995-1998). After graduating from Conservatory in 1997, she co-founded the groundbreaking women’s music ensemble Chakaveh. In 1999 she joined the Iranian National Orchestra, beginning her career as an international performer. She left Iran in 2003 to pursue graduate studies, closed to her there due to her Bahai’i faith.
For the past decade, Sahba has lived near Los Angeles. She continues to perform worldwide, and has released a series of noted books and ten recordings. Sahba is recognized as an innovator in the teaching of Persian music; her pioneering efforts putting instructional materials on the internet and teaching students online have inspired something of a renaissance in the transmission of this ancient art form, reflecting her commitment to bringing music to the world.
At the Montana Folk Festival, Sahba will be accompanied by Grammy-winning percussionist T.J. Troy. Troy combines an eclectic knowledge of percussion from around the world with his innate musicality to create a distinct and powerful voice in contemporary percussive arts. He is Principal Percussionist for MESTO, an internationally recognized orchestra specializing in Middle Eastern Classical Music; he is a Grammy Award winner with the group Partch, as vocalist and champion of the giant Bass Marimba. Troy brings virtuosity, style, knowledge and experience to the broad range of percussion music he champions. From the deep traditions of Indian and Middle Eastern percussion, to the rich complexity of Contemporary Classical Music, to the sheer power of modern drumset playing, T.J. has developed lines of symmetry and expression that allow him to move freely between styles.