Happy Nowruz

When multi-instrumentalist Mohammad Nejad is not performing around the world with different ensembles, you can mostly find him in the San Francisco Bay Area performing and teaching.

It happens Thursday, March 19, the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day. On the Iranian calendar it marks the new year, known as Nowruz.

Although it’s been celebrated by multiple diverse communities for centuries, Palenke Arts is unique for hosting the only music performance on the Central Coast in observation of this 13-day festival.

“Seaside is very diverse – and sometimes its artistic showcases pop up sporadically in waves,” Program Coordinator Juan Sánchez says. “Part of the mission of Palenke Arts is to cultivate cultures that are here.” This holiday, he adds, has been on his proverbial to-do list. And through his background in Mediterranean music, Sánchez encountered the work of Mohammad Nejad.

Iranian-born Nejad, founder of the Nejad World Music Center in San Jose, is a master multi-instrumentalist, with decades of experience in the Iranian music and film industry.

At this Seaside performance, his ensemble will play a variety of traditional Persian classical music and original compositions. Nejad is also fluent in all things western music, effectively blending Persian influence with classical, jazz, blues, New Age, flamenco.

The songs are diverse – some are bright and upbeat, with thematic instrumental runs and dynamic stops and solos. Others are mystical and folky, and build up into melodious excitement relying on foreign keys and rhythms.

With music, traditional food and a Nowruz-themed children’s book on display, the International School will have a view of another part of the world, without having to go further than up the hill in Seaside.

NOWRUZ 1399 7pm Saturday, March 7. International School of Monterey, 1720 Yosemite St., Seaside. $15 – $50. 583-2165, palenkearts.com

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