” ..the soprano Monika Jalili is mining to impressive effect the pop music of pre-revolution Iran…” – New York Times
Iran…1950s-1970s…a time when women weren’t forced to wear the hijab and could be who they wanted to be… poetic and folkloric songs popularized on radio and in films…then completely banned in 1979 at the time of the Iranian Revolution…branded as western and heretical and prohibited for women to sing in public. Great poets and composers were forbidden to express themselves in a culture where poetry and music had always been so deeply ingrained.
Infused with new blood, new instrumentations, new arrangements, and love, these are the songs that Monika Jalili has awakened and brought back to life.
“…on a eu droit à la voix remarquable de la soprano Monika Jalili, dont les subtiles inflexions persanes convenaient parfaitement à l’arrangement symphonique de Jaan-e Maryam…” – LaPresse.CA
Performances include the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, United States Naval Academy, The Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington D.C., Yoshi’s in San Francisco, The Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City, Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC, Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre in NYC, and sold-out concerts at the Place des Arts in Montreal with The Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and at Libby Gardner Hall in Salt Lake City with the Utah Philharmonia Orchestra.
These are lyrical melodies, and also original compositions, musically western in style with hints of Persian traditional music, sung in Persian, various Iranian dialects, French and English, combined with a voice that sounds like Loreena McKennitt.
Born and raised in New York City, and now based in Montpellier, France, and a graduate of The Manhattan School of Music in New York City, 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 Belgium some years ago, when she heard a Persian song from the 1950s entitled “Jaan-e Maryam.” This was the song that changed her life. She returned to New York, formed her ensemble and began working on Persian songs from the same era. Soon after, 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 and was the beginning of Monika’s journey.
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….
Iran…present day…women and citizens fighting for their freedom and their lives. In support of their battle, let us celebrate their beautiful and historic culture with the world.