Niyaz brings Middle Eastern music to Whitefish and Helena

Dynamic quintet fuses Middle Eastern rhythms at concerts March 10-11

New & Notable

Niyaz, a dynamic quintet of musicians known for their bold fusion of traditional and contemporary Middle Eastern rhythms, performs in Whitefish March 10 and Helena March 11.

Described by the Huffington Post as “an evolutionary force in contemporary Middle Eastern music,” Niyaz – which means “yearning” in both Farsi and Urdu – blends medieval Sufi poetry and folk songs from Turkey, India, and their native Iran with rich acoustic instrumentation and modern electronic rhythms. The result is a riveting folktronica, a distinctively 21st century global trance sound that crosses not only stylistic and cultural boundaries but generational ones as well. As part of their cutting-edge performance, Niyaz will be joined by a classically-trained whirling dervish, a spellbinding, spinning dancer sure to entrance the audience.

Niyaz was founded in 2004 by captivating vocalist Azam Ali and multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian, both JUNO Award nominees. Azam is an Iranian-born, Indian-raised singer/composer whose worldly vocals have been featured in many Hollywood film and television soundtracks. Iranian-born Loga, a highly gifted composer and a visionary, is greatly respected worldwide for his ability to adapt the Persian classical repertoire to his own unique and modern compositions. While his main instruments include the Turkish Saz, the Kamaan and the Guitar Viol, Loga also plays the Lafta, Guitar, and Djura.

The band also features Gabriel Ethier on keyboards and music programming, Vaneet Vyas playing the tabla, a South Asian percussion instrument, and Didem Basar playing the kanun, a Turkish stringed instrument related to the dulcimer. Tanya Evanson is joining Niyaz as the Sufi dancer.

Niyaz has produced three successful albums, which have topped the world music sales and radio charts, each redefining a unique style of world music with imaginative combinations of sound and socially conscious messages. With features on National Public Radio and Public Radio International, Niyaz are tireless performers who continue to tour internationally, building on their impressive and loyal fan base worldwide.

The Whitefish concert starts at 7:30 p.m. March at the O’Shaughnessy Center. Tickets are $20-$30; call 406-862-5371 or order online at

The Helena performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Myrna Loy Center. Tickets are $26; call 406-443-0287 or visit