Kayhan Kalhor is a master of the kamancheh, an Iranian instrument with centuries-deep roots in the region. For decades, he has been an essential proponent for the instrument and its heritage outside of the Middle East, bowing mournful tones alongside the likes of Kronos Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, and Brooklyn Rider, with whom he made an album about a town decimated by Saddam Hussein’s chemical warfare. This interview—in which he discusses music as part of a robust political society, the unspoken troubles of travel bans, and the pleasure of breeding horses—is powerful and poignant. “Good politics will lead to an uncorrupted and robust economy, which in turn should help culture too flourish,” he says. “Bad politics results in a corrupt economy and an absence of cultural infrastructure.” See him at Big Ears 2019 with Brooklyn Rider and during a solo set.