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Haleh Abghari


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© Haleh Abghari

Haleh Abghari is a native of Iran and divides her time between California and New York City.  She has performed as a singer, actor, and voice-over artist in the U.S., Canada and Europe to critical acclaim.  The New York Times hailed her work in Georges Aperghis' Recitations for Solo Voice as "a virtuoso and winning performance," and the Washington Post described her voice as ". . . high, dry, sweet and piercingly pure soprano."  Her portrayal of King George III in Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies with the New York New Music Ensemble at Merkin Concert Hall was cited as one of the “Performances of 2007” by MusicWeb International. She is the only woman to perform this demanding role, originally written for Roy Hart, a pioneer of extended vocal technique.  In 2012 she performed the work for the composer at a festival celebrating his music at James Madison University in Virginia.


In addition to working with numerous living composers and premiering new works, Abghari has created original music and performance pieces, and collaborated on many projects and installation-performance pieces with visual and performance artists.  In 2012, together with composer Laurie San Martin and visual artist Dana Harel, she created, produced and performed in Conference of the Birds Unfeathered, an adaptation of the epic tale by the Persian poet, Attar.  She has performed and created live soundtracks to several animations by Martha Colburn including Destiny Manifesto at venues such as San Francisco MoMA and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 


Abghari was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Grant to work on the vocal music of György Kurtág in Budapest.  Her other awards include The David S. Saxon Award for Excellence in the Performance of Early Music, The Zaidee T. Thomas Award in Vocal Performance, Presidential undergraduate Fellowship (UC Davis); a Peabody Conservatory Career Development Grant; and a grant from the Puffin Foundation for the development of a new music-theatre piece based on Persian poetry with Companion Star Productions. She previously worked as a music programmer and host, broadcasting for WNYC and WQXR (NYC’s public radio stations). 


Her performances include appearances at the Montalvo Center for the Arts, Live at The Whitney Museum, Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum (NYC), Music on the Edge Series at the Andy Warhol Museum, Joe’s Pub (NYC), the Monadnock Music Festival, the Staunton Music Festival, Sonic Boom, the IFCP Festival, and the CrossSound Festival (Alaska), as well as EtnaFest, Teatro Manzoni, and SoundRes in Italy.  She has appeared as guest soloist and/or recorded with numerous ensembles including The New York New Music Ensemble, Cygnus Ensemble, Sequitur Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, Bent Frequency, Empyrean Ensemble, Thamyris, and Fred Ho’s Afro Asian Music Ensemble at various notable venues.


Abghari was an artist-in-residence at the University of CA in Davis and at Montalvo Center for the Arts.  In addition to giving private voice lessons, she has conducted master-classes and workshops at universities and schools in the US and abroad.  As an educator, she has taught in the NY public schools as a teaching artist through organizations such as Arts Connection and the education program of the American Composers Orchestra.  She currently serves as the head of the voice program of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs .


Abghari pursued her studies in music at The University of California at Davis, Peabody Conservatory, The Mannes College of Music, and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada.  Her major teachers include Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Adrienne Csengery, and Paul Hillier, and her vocal repertoire ranges from early music to art songs, opera, cabaret songs, and contemporary music.  With the Peabody Opera Theatre, she appeared in the title role of L’Enfant et les sortilčges, and as the Old Lady in Candide.  Additionally, she served as stage director for a full production of The Telephone with The Peabody Opera Theatre. 


Abghari is an original member of Mouths Wide Open (MWO), an ad hoc group of volunteers dedicated to promoting active citizenship, civic dialogue, and finding new forms of political expression through the arts.  With MWO, she produced and created two performance events in New York City featuring renowned performers and speakers:  Breaking the Silence at Symphony Space in opposition to the War on Iraq; and The Republic in Ruins, A Performance Collage of Music and Spoken Word in response to the RNC 2004 at Washington Square Church.  She has been interviewed and her work has been heard on WNYC, WBAI, Voice of America, Resonance 104.4FM, and Air America among other radio stations.  She is a featured soloist on several albums recorded by composer and baritone saxophone player Fred Ho and The Afro-Asian Music Ensemble, and with Cygnus Ensemble among others. 




Graduate Performance Diploma in Voice, the Peabody Institute

Master of Music in Voice, the Peabody Institute

Graduate studies in Voice, the Mannes College of Music

Bachelor of Art in Music, the University of California, Davis

Baroque Performance Institute, Oberlin College

The Bartók International Seminar and Festival, Hungary

New Work Development, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada

Integration Program, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Canada

Workshops with Wesley H. Balk, Washington, D.C.