© Ina Aydogan



In 2008, the Iranian/Canadian vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Golnar Shahyar settled in Vienna and began studying voice and guitar at the University of Music and Performing Arts. Her timing was auspicious: a generational change was gathering strength on the music scene. The stubbornly traditionalist mindset that had held sway for decades was beginning to crumble, gradually giving way to an increased interest in experimentation and transcending old boundaries, both aesthetic and cultural. Many musicians were increasingly questioning the contrived distinctions between “serious” and “popular” music, as well as the Eurocentricity received from previous generations. 

Golnar’s musical aspirations found fertile soil in these circles, as did her passion for social justice in all its forms. She quickly made a name for herself in Vienna, and today she is widely known as one of the most accomplished vocal artists in European contemporary and improvised music, as well as a composer and producer of her own music and a collaborator in dance, theater projects and opera productions. 

Her debut album “Tear Drop”, released in November 2022, was nominated in the German Jazzpreis for the best debut album of the year (international). Her work – with groups like Choub, Gabbeh, and the Golnar & Mahan Trio, and as a solo artist under the name GolNar – is an extraordinary prism of languages and styles, drawing equally from the traditions of Western Asia and North Africa and from the contemporary music of Europe and the Americas. There is no meaningful division between her music and the social themes it addresses; she came of age in a culture where women, for decades, have fought for a public voice. Add to that the status of an outsider in Western Europe, representing a culture often viewed with mistrust and misunderstanding, and music-making in itself becomes a political act.

Still, attempting to meld politics and art is risky: if music is to carry a political message it must be of the very highest quality, be able to stand on its own. Fortunately, all of the above facts – as interesting as they are – pale next to Golnar’s supreme musicianship. Her voice is an exquisitely honed instrument, evocative and astonishingly flexible. Listen to her solo performance of "War", an original composition based on a traditional Armenian religious song: after a 6-minute emotional tour de force reminiscent, the song decays into an atmospheric coda, during which she first imitates a police siren, with eerie accuracy, and then looses a scream from deep inside herself – the scream of a woman in extremis, or a bird of prey, all the more unsettling because she seems to conjure it so effortlessly. She has the improvisor’s gift of balancing the familiar and the unexpected; her fine control of pitch, timbre, accent, and breath allow her to use them each as individual elements or to unite them all in the service of a lyric. 

Golnar’s music creates a landscape of emotion and narrative, informed by tradition and yet completely her own. Many of her songs bear the weight of tragedy: of war, repression, the personal struggles that we all share...yet for all that, there is nothing negative about her music. She is gracious and open, on stage and in life, and even the darkest, most tragic stories are delivered with an underlying sense of release: as if she is purging herself, and us, of the darkness, so that we might look toward the light and right the wrongs of which she sings.

(Philip Yaeger)




Wiener Musikverein - Golden Hall (Soloist), Keith Lockhart - Boston Pops Orchestra (Soloist), World of Hans Zimmer (Soloist),  ORF Radiosymphonie Orchestra (Soloist), Tonkünslter-Orchester (Soloist), NDR Bigband (Soloist),  Trickster Orchestra (Soloist), Gabriel YaredWayne MarshalMarmoucha Orchestra (Soloist)Erkan Ogur, Alain Perez, Mathias Rüegg, Wolfgang Puschnig, Alegre Correa, Mahan Mirarab, Naissam Jalal, Yazz Ahmed, Pedro Eustache, Juan Garcias Herreros, Rusanda Panfili, Marie Spaemann, Mario Rom, Vinicius Ciccone Cajado, András Dés, Pavel Urkize, Cymin Samavatian, Martin Stegner, Natasha Mirkovic, Christof Dienz, Basma Jabr, Orwa Saleh, Eliane Correa, Lana Cencic, Hadar Noiberg, Haggai Cohen Milo, Luis Verra, Alegre Correa, Alex Simu, Manu Mayr, Mona Matbou Riahi, Sakina Teyna, Krzysztof Dobrek, Ariel Ramirez Barrera, Efe Türümtey, Rina Kaçinari, Oskar Antoli, etc.





Pierre Boulez Saal, Wiener Musikverein (Golden Hall), Berliner Philharnomie, Elbphilharmonie (Großer Saal), Royal Festival Hall - Southband Centre (London), Deutsche Oper Berlin, Konzerthaus Wien, Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris), King s Place (London), Burgtheater Wien, Wiener Festwochen, Wien Modern, Wiener Festwochen Openning Concert, JazzFest Wien, Jazz & the City Salzburg, JazzFest Saalfelden, Morgenland Festival, Carinthischen Sommer Festival, Rudolfstadt Festival, Südtirol JazzFest, Novi Saad Jazz Festival, Tonlagen II, Felix Festival der Kölner Philharmonie, Művészetek Völgye Fesztivál, Female Voice of Iran Festival, Hollywood in Vienna, Hans Zimmer France & Saudi Arabia Tour (Solist), Burgtheater Wien, Volkstheater Wien, Gorki Theater Berlin, Porgy & Bess, Sunset Sunside Jazz Club, A-Trane...


"The album „Tear Drop“ by Golnar Shahyar was nominated for the German Jazz Prize by the expert jury for two decisive reasons. On the one hand, it is the outstanding vocal qualities that the Iranian/Canadian vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Golnar Shahyar impressively brings to the fore. On the other hand, the album meets all the requirements of a music production of the highest quality. When a debut album is already so expressive, individual and diverse, it deserves the chance to be awarded the German Jazz Prize as one of three internationally nominated debut albums." German Jazz Awards 2023 Jury

"Golnar Shahyar s performance ... was what one rapturously calls a "transcendent moment" and then wonders what words shoot out of one s otherwise so rational mouth. After all, that s the thing about the transcendent. The thing that this voice can do to you." - Popfest Wien

"Golnar is a millennium voice. The only voice that ever moved me to tears when I saw her live. Every single note she sings contains incredible magic." - Mira Lu Kovacs

"Instant admirer of Golnar s many talents" - Colin Bass

"A courageous and powerful woman whose art overcomes boundaries in the truest way possible." SUSANNE GRADL (MDW – Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien)

"If you have read Carson Makers, Alice Manro, Flannery O Connor and - why not! - Virginia Woolf, then the Iranian diva Golnar Shahyar maybe your favorite new heroine." - Danas Newspaper

"An artist, improviser, and storyteller whose mesmerizing voice connects all these dots together." - ZH Magazine

"With a voice full of nuances and her hypnotic presence on stage, Golnar Shahyar has everything necessary for a great singer." - Ernst Perbin-Vogl (Sargfabric Vienna)

"When Golnar Shahyar sings, you can easily forget everything else around..." - Helmut Jasper (Radio Ö1) 

"The hypnotic polyphonic weaves of Golnar Shahyar s voice and her guitar or piano playing takes place so naturally as a floating story about the diversity of life, crossing her fondling fingers over your mind and heart." - Danas Newspaper

"For the exceptional singer Golnar Shahyar, it seemed that her performance knows no vocal limitations. Along with traditional melodies of the middle eastern region, her vocals repeatedly acted through improvised lines as an additional instrument, adding to Wahba and Mirarab s terminology, a picturesque spectrum of emotions with a perfect measure of contemplative harmonies. It is amazing how flexible this singer develops on stage and how ubiquitous she is with her expressive frenzy, as well as her incredible grace and longing. Her vocal performance took over the focus of the concert, and the audience was stunned by her picturesque vocal brilliance." - rockline.si






2023 an.schläge - Das Feministische Magazin - Die Wut in die Welt (Portrait)

2023   Widerstand und Poesy - Augustin Interview

2023 "Tear Drop" Album Review by LAURA KRAJNC (Radio Student)

2022  The Guardian: ‘Woman, life, freedom!’

2022 “MUSIC IS FREEDOM FOR ME” – GOLNAR SHAHYAR In Interview with Sylvia Wendrock (Sprechgold)

2022  Musikalische Sprache - Augustin Interview


2021 Jazz’halo Interview - A Conversation With Golnar Shahyar

2021 چهره‌ها: گلنار شهیار (Video Portrait) 

2021 Alumna im Fokus: Golnar Shahyar

2021 Van-Outernational Magazine 

2020 Words In Pants Interview


2019 ZH Magazine 

2019 Zvuk for Modra Festival

2018 گلنار شهیار: روایت زن و بدن و موسیقی جاز

2018 به زندگی من خوش آمدید - گلنار شهیار (Video Portrait) 





2023 "Tear Drop" - German Jazz Awards 2023 Nomination - Debut Album of the Year (International)

2022 Arbeitsstipendium Komposition - Stadt Wien

2021 Österreichischer Musikfonds - GolNar

2021 Global Toronto 2021 Official Showcase Selection (Golnar & Mahan Trio) 

2020  WOMEX 2020 Official Showcase Selection (Golnar & Mahan Trio) 

2018  Kick Jazz 2018 Showcase - Official Selection (Golnar & Mahan Trio) 

(2018/2019) Nominierung für NASOM – The New Austrian Sound of Music 2018/2019 (with Golnar & Mahan Trio)

2017 Österreichischer Musikfonds - Golnar & Mahan 

(2016/2017) Nominierung für NASOM – The New Austrian Sound of Music 2016/2017 (with Sormeh)

2015 Austrian World Music Awards - Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik – IGNM Österreich: Finalistin (mit Mahan Mirarab Band)

2014 Austrian World Music Awards - Internationale Gesellschaft für Neue Musik – IGNM Österreich: Finalistin (mit Sormeh)

2013 Österreichischer Musikfonds - Sormeh

(2014/2015) Nominierung für NASOM – The New Austrian Sound of Music 2014/2015 (with Choub)




As performer and composer Golnar Shahyar also collaborated in various dance and theatre productions with Volkstheater WienTheaterkollektiv HybridWiner Konzerthaus  (Jeunesse), Vienna Art History Museum (Wenn Es Soweit Ist Productions), and Tanzlabor Labyrinth Productions and was invited as music/workshop director in festivals such as "Common Sound Festival" (Deutsche Oper Berlin) and "Female Voice of Iran Festival" (Zeitgenößische Oper Berlin) and "Morgenland Akademie". 


2023-24 // “Wohin” (Music Theater) 

Position: Composer, Screenwriter, Performer

In cooperation with Musikverein Wien & Philharmonie Luxemburg

2022 // Negar

Position: Negar (Lead singer/actress)

An Opera production by DEUTSCHE OPER BERLIN & Opéra Orchestre national Montpellier 

2020 //Ein Staatenloser - Einblicke In Die Festung Europa 

Position: Composer, Vocalist, Performer

A production by Theaterkollektiv Hybrid in cooperation with WERKX - Petersplatz

2020 //"GANYMED IN POWER" (Performance Production) 

Position: Singer, Performer, Composer

A production by "WENN ES SOWEIT IST" Productions in cooperation with KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM WIEN

2019 // "ROJAVA" (Theater Production)

Position: Composer, Actor, Musician

A theatre production by VOLKSTHEATER WIEN

2019 //"GANYMED IN LOVE" (Performance Production)

Position: Singer, Performer, Composer

A production by "WENN ES SO WEIT IST" productions in cooperation with KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM WIEN

2017 //"FREMDKÖRPER" (Dance Production) 

Position: Composer, Performer, Singer, Guitarist

A production by Tanzlabor Labyrinth

2017 //"TRIOLINO" (Children’s Musical) 

Position: Singer, Composer, Actor

A production by JEUNESSE in cooperation with WIENER KONZERTHAUS

2014 // "SEVEN CITIES OF LOVE" (Dance Production)

Position: Singer


2013 // "FALLING UP" (Dance Production) 

Position: Singer


2010 //"CALL FOR FREEDOM" (Dance Production)

Position: Singer





In 2020 Shahyar co-founded WE:Shape, a platform aiming to advocate and promote EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) and fair pay in the music industry and education focusing in German-speaking countries. Since then Shahyar has been active as curator, commentator, concept & strategy developer in various festivals, podium discussions to advocate  and integrate EDI and fair pay in the music scene. 


Further activities: 


Position: Curator of a 4 day cluster dedicated to "Music & Human Rights" 

Function: Podium participant & Co-curator in cooperation with D/arts

Function: Concept development in cooperation with Brunnenpassage, Performer

  • Kultursommer Wien 2020 & 2021 (A festival which initiated performance opportunities for 2000 artists of the Viennese performance and literature scene at the time of pandemic.) 

   Function: Artistic board member 

   Function: Podium Participant, Performer

   Function: Podium Participant

   Function: Podium Participant, Performer

    Function: Podium Participant, Performer




Since 2021, Golnar Shahyar teaches singing and holds the seminar "Voice, Body, Identity" at the ethnomusicology department of University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna.


2023 // Morgenland Academy

Position: Workshop Director

2023 // Glatt & Verkehrt - Musikwerkstatt 2023

Position: Workshop Director


Position: Workshop Director

2021 // "Wien Dreht Auf" Festival - Kultursommer 2020 - Vienna (A)

Position: Artistic Team (Curating Team) 

Organised by Stadt Wien Marketing 

2021 // Teaching vocals at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna

2020 // "Wien Dreht Auf" Festival - Kultursommer 2020 - Vienna (A)

Position: Artistic Team (Curating Team)

Organised by Stadt Wien Marketing 

2020 // "Musikwerkstatt Workshop" - KREMS (A) !!!Canceled due to Pandemic!!!

Position: Workshop Director

In cooperation with GLATT & VERKEHRT FESTIVAL 

2020 //"Winterferien-Musiklabor" - BERLIN (GER)

Position: Workshop Director

In cooperation with DEUTSCHE OPER BERLIN

2019 //"Common Sound Festival" - BERLIN (GER)

Position: Workshop Director, Singer


2018 // "Female Voice of Iran Festival" - BERLIN (GER)

Position: Coach & Musical Director


2017 //"Stimme, Sound & Vielfältigkeit”, LINZ (A)

Position: Workshop Director 

In cooperation with CARNEVAL OF FEAR FESTIVAL 

2016 // "Voice Workshop", TEHRAN (IR)

Position: Workshop Director

In cooperation with HATRA MUSIC SCHOOL

Monthly voice workshops // VIENNA (A)

Position: Workshop Director

In cooperation with BRUNNENPASSAGE WIEN