Niyaz blens tradition with electronics

The musical ensemble Niyaz has garnered widespread critical acclaim for their ability to seamlessly meld ancient poetry and song of the historic Middle East with contemporary touches and flourishes of twenty-first century electronica.

The result is a music that is, simultaneously ancient and modern.

They will perform in the Barkley Theatre in the Oats Park Art Center on April 9 at 8 p.m

Originally from Los Angeles but now based in Montreal, the group is committed to performing music with a deep social message — that people of all cultural and religious backgrounds share a common humanity — and in doing so, they create music of unbelievable beauty.

The instrumentation reflects the blending of old and new — from cymbals, frame drum and table, saz and viol to electric guitar, computer programming keyboards and synthesizers. It truly is what many have referred to as mystical music with a modern edge.

Then there’s the amazing vocals of Azam Ali, a singer of richly textured proportions who, on their most recent album, “The Fourth Light,” pays tribute to an eighth-century female poet, mystic and saint who first introduced the doctrine of divine love.

To further share their belief in in the power of music to unite us all, the group offers their thoughts on a variety of subjects from the growing feminist movement and gender inequality in the east to Persian musical theory, the influence of Sufi poets such as Rumi on their work and the impact globalization has had on world music.

They will share some of their thoughts on these subjects and others in a free and open to the public conversation at 3 p.m. on the day of the performance in the Center’s Art Bar.

NPR’s Weekend Edition noted that their “journey across oceans can be heard in their music ... an interesting blend of modern electronica with ... Sufi mysticism ... Los Angeles meets New Delhi…”

Tickets for the evening concert are $17 for CAC members, $20 for non-members and can be picked up at Jeff’s Copy Express on Maine Street, at ITT @ NAS Fallon or by calling Churchill Arts at 775-423-1440. Doors and the no-host Art Bar will open at 7 p.m. and the show will begin at 8 p.m.

Kirk Robertson covers the arts and may be reached at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment