Imamyar Hasanov

Imamyar Hasanov & Abbos Kosimov

Azerbaijani kamancha and percussion San Francisco and Sacramento, California
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of the Artist
Imamyar Hasanov

The powerful music of Azerbaijan ranges from the sublime to the ecstatic in both folk and classical idioms. Imamyar Hasanov is a virtuoso of the kamancha, the spiked fiddle that is central to Azerbaijani musical tradition. His unique gifts and vision have not only contributed to the preservation of Azerbaijani traditional music but have also created a body of work that has brought this music to world attention. Joined by his frequent collaborator master Uzbek percussionist, Abbos Kosimov, these two brilliant artists bring spellbinding sounds from the famed Silk Road to the 78th National Folk Festival.

Located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Azerbaijan’s music builds upon folk traditions that reach back nearly 1,000 years. The Azerbaijani kamancha shares an ancient common ancestor, the Persian bowed rebab, with the European fiddle. The four-stringed modern kamancha played by Hasanov has a long neck and bowl-shaped resonating chamber and is bowed in an upright position while perched on the musician’s knee.

Born in the city of Baku, Imamyar Hasanov began his musical studies at age seven with the clarinet, which was central to folk ensembles like the one in which his father played percussion. When he turned 10, his father urged him to choose a traditional instrument, and Hasanov was enchanted by the kamancha. He eventually became the youngest soloist in Azerbaijan’s National Music Instruments Orchestra, and earned a Master’s in Art and Music from the Azerbaijani State Conservatory. His mastery of the form won him numerous national competitions before he immigrated to the United States in 2000. Since 2012, Imamyar Hasanov has been the Global Music Director for the San Francisco World Music Festival.

Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan share elements of a musical heritage shaped by Turkic-Persian influences and by their locations along the ancient network of trade routes known as the Silk Road. Abbos Kosimov’s primary instrument is the doyra, the Uzbek variant of the frame drum central to folk music across the region; he also plays other traditional percussion instruments including the qayroq, a shaker made of two polished river rocks. Raised in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in a musical family, he studied with the great doyra master Ustad Tuychi Inagomov. No one else in Kosimov’s family played percussion, and his father wanted him to learn from the best. Making his home in the U.S. for the past decade, Kosimov is globally recognized as a teacher, performer, and Uzbek cultural ambassador.

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