” ..the soprano Monika Jalili is mining to impressive effect the pop music of pre-revolution Iran…” – New York Times
Iran…1950s-1970s…poetic songs popularized on radio and in films…then completely banned in 1979 at the time of the Iranian Revolution…branded as western and unreligious. Infused with new blood, new instrumentations, new arrangements, these are the songs that Monika Jalili has awakened and brought back to life.
Having just dazzled audiences at a sold-out concert on December 6, 2018 in at Libby Gardner Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah while premiering her music with the Utah Philharmonia Orchestra together with her ensemble of violin, guitar, cello and percussion, Monika is taking this music to new levels. Performances include the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, United States Naval Academy, Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City, The Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington D.C., and sold-out concerts at the Place des Arts in Montreal with The Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
With lyrics in Persian, and various other dialects from Iran, along with translations in English and French, the music is almost completely western in style, with hints of traditional Persian music. It is very lyrical, with both romantic ballads as well as high energy pieces.
Born and raised in New York City to parents of Dutch and German heritage, and now based in Montpellier, France, Monika’s music career began in the world of musical theatre…..Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring with musicals around the US. That is how she had always envisioned her career to be…until one fortuitous mid-summer day in 2004, when she heard a Persian song from the 1950s entitled “Jaan-e Maryam.” This was the song that changed her life. She immersed herself in the Persian language in Los Angeles for six weeks, living with an Iranian family and taking intensive language courses. She then returned to New York, formed her ensemble and began working on Persian songs from the same era. In October of 2005, Monika and her ensemble had their premier concert at the Trinity Church on Wall Street in NYC. The concert was recorded live and the webcast of that concert generated more than 350,000 views from people all over the world in a matter of days and weeks…many of them living in Iran. The reviews were tremendous….many touched and brought to tears hearing songs they’d not heard since their childhood, nostalgic for the music of Iran before the revolution of 1979. This concert brought in performance invitations from around the globe. Monika’s journey was launched in 2006.
Monika’s latest and ongoing project is sharing the voices of Iran today. This came from her desire to express the words, thoughts and feelings of Iranians living in modern day Iran. With poetry that has been translated into English, and original music written by Monika, Monika has begun performing these songs at recent concerts.
While still actively performing with her ensemble, Monika has begun to expand her ensemble to include performing with symphonies. And so the journey continues….