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Iranian-Jewish American Performer to Present 'The Naming' at Ithaca College

ITHACA, NY — Noted Iranian-Jewish American vocalist, cantor and anthropologist Galeet Dardashti will present her new multimedia work, “The Naming,” at Ithaca College on Sunday, Feb. 27. The 7 p.m. performance in Emerson Suites, Phillips Hall, is free and open to the public.

“The Naming” transforms the ghostly outlines of Biblical women into full-blown flesh-and-blood personalities. Dardashti’s songs tell the stories of why the Queen of Sheba shaved her legs, how Vashti laid down the line for her drunken husband and how a mysterious witch spoke King Saul’s doom and then served him a nice dinner. For Dardashti, these stories also intertwine with her own family’s tales of women breaking the rules and those of women in the Middle East today fighting to have their voices heard.

As a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, Dardashti was fascinated by stories of her grandfather, a great Jewish cantor in Tehran whose voice drew Muslims to his synagogue. In “The Naming,” she unites the Persian classical music that made her grandfather a musical icon with her deep connection to Jewish poetry and song to create lush, electronica-edged Middle Eastern compositions in Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and Persian.

An educator as well as performer — she recently attained a Ph.D. in anthropology focused on Israel’s Mizrahi and Arab music — Dardashti has an operatic voice, which is gorgeously backed up by magnificent violin, dulcimer and darbuka exhibitions.

In addition to her performance, Dardashti will lead a public Sephardi-Mizrahi Shabbat service in the college’s Muller Chapel at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25. Earlier that day she will teach a master class for Ithaca College students on Jewish music of the Middle East.

Dardashti’s visit is taking place thanks to the generosity of Steven Weiss ’91 and is sponsored by the Ithaca College Jewish studies program. For more information, contact Rebecca Lesses, coordinator of Jewish studies, at (607) 274-3556 or