Tiny Desk

Mohammad Reza Shajarian

Download Audio

15 min 5 sec

Every Tiny Desk Concert provides its own particular thrill, but it's not every day that we get to welcome one of NPR's 50 Great Voices to our offices. With the visit of the incredible, honey-voiced Mohammad Reza Shajarian from Iran, we lucked out by having him sing on not just any day, but on the biggest holiday of the Persian calendar: Nowruz, the New Year.

Joined by three excellent collaborators, brothers Sohrab and Tahmoures Pournazeri (celebrated musicians in their own right as leaders of Iran's Shams Ensemble) and French percussionist Robin Vassy, Ostad ("Master") Shajarian gave what amounted to a brief master class in the art of singing. In the course of this love song, titled "Az Eshgh," Shajarian unleashed torrents of swooping, soaring, goosebump-inducing sound — still perfectly controlled at age 73.

Over the past several years, Shajarian has emerged as a strong voice in other ways. Though he's been an artistic icon for decades at home, he was never particularly outspoken on political issues. But since the Green movement began in Iran in the wake of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection in June 2009, Shajarian has openly made reference to supporting the opposition, and has demanded that state-run media stop using his songs in their broadcasts and films. Those moves carry a heavy cost: He has been effectively barred from performing live in Iran, and instead now spends most of his time touring the world to diaspora and non-Iranian audiences alike. But at his heart, Shajarian is a great artist, not a politician — and perhaps now, even more will have the chance to experience his brilliant beauty and power as a singer.

Set List
  • "Az Eshgh (Love Song)"

Producer: Anastasia Tsioulcas; Editor: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Lizzie Chen, Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; photo by Marie McGrory/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Concert with Youth Lagoon Jun Tsuboike/NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR/NPR

Tiny Desk

Youth Lagoon

Trevor Powers' new songs are expansive and self-assured, a transition reflected in this performance.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Wild Reeds Julia Reihs/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Julia Reihs/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Wild Reeds

Great singers aren't easy to come by, so finding three in one band is something special.

Tiny Desk Concert with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Julia Reihs/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Julia Reihs/NPR

Tiny Desk

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

At the Tiny Desk, Rateliff's body-shaking Southern-style soul takes on a more laid-back sound.

Jun Tsuboike/NPR/NPR

Tiny Desk

Rahim AlHaj

The oud player's wordless music tells powerful stories about life's blessedness and fragility.

Tiny Desk Concert with Aurora Hadas /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Hadas /NPR

Tiny Desk


At 19 and on the cusp of her first album, the Norwegian singer performs with a sense of discovery.

Tiny Desk Concert with My Bubba Jun Tsuboike/NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR/NPR

Tiny Desk

My Bubba

My Bubba is a duo of women whose quirky, delicate, sweetly sung folk songs are a delight.

Tiny Desk Concert with Chris and Morgane Stapleton Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chris Stapleton

With his wife Morgane, the country singer-songwriter sings patient, detailed songs of devotion.

Tiny Desk Concert with Diane Coffee. Jun Tsuboike/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jun Tsuboike/NPR

Tiny Desk

Diane Coffee

Conjuring David Bowie, Diane Coffee's Shaun Fleming swaggered and shimmied behind the Tiny Desk.

Tiny Desk Concert with The Suffers NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR/NPR

Tiny Desk

The Suffers

The 10-piece band can barely fit all its horns, guitars, percussion and energy behind one desk.

Tiny Desk Concert with Beauty Pill Julia Reihs/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Julia Reihs/NPR

Tiny Desk

Beauty Pill

In Beauty Pill, life whirs with plunderphonic glee and riffs are funky from the inside out.

Back To Top

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor