Zal and The Phoenix

Autumn 2021

Bagri Foundation supports the animation for a new production of Zal & the Phoenix, a theatrical production for children and families around the world featuring storytelling, vibrant digital paintings and live orchestra. This 50-minute enchanting adaptation of a tale from Ferdowsi’s epic poem Shahnameh is offered alongside educational workshops and an immersive experience of Persian culture.

The project is presented by the Zal & the Phoenix team which includes Shohreh Shakoory (composer), April Fredrick  (soprano-narrator), James Ross (musical director), Julia Mintzer (director), Hooran Studio (animators), and Meysam Mousavi (illustrator).  It is delivered in partnership with orchestra Kent Sinfonia, education work with the British Institute for Persian Studies, Shiva Nova, York Islamic Art CircleIran Heritage and SquarePegs Arts.

Below is a description and 3-minute project teaser. Click here for the project website 

Check back and look at our Events page for the forthcoming performances and tour this Autumn 2021.


Shohreh Shakoory
 is an Iranian pianist-composer. She was born in Iran and lived through revolution, war, and immigration. She moved to the UK in 1993 and received her Teacher’s Diploma (LTCL) from Trinity College, London in 1997. Her career as a composer, pianist and accompanist has included recitals at venues including Purcell Room, Conway Hall and Cochrane Theatre, as well as numerous festivals in the UK, Belgium, France and IranShohreh played for Iranian Television and Radio (the national broadcaster) for over four years, recording for children’s programs, radio shows and film scores. Shohreh has contributed to a CD (Voices) recorded live for The Medical Foundation Organization, UK, and she has recorded two of her compositions for Iran’s national Radio and Television station (Seda va Sima). Her Trio compositions were featured in a performance in the Canterbury festival 2017. Shohreh has been working on the ‘Zal & Phoenix‘ project since 2017.

Shohreh and her team are interested in helping bring Zal and the Phoenix to a wider audience,  If you would like to support our vision, please get in touch at

Hailed as ‘astonishing and luminous’ (Bachtracks), April Fredrick’s work spans from period music through to oratorio, opera, contemporary works, and devised and site-specific events. She is a frequent soloist inconcert venues across the UK. including Bridgewater Hall, St. John’s Smith Squarethe Royal Concert Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, she appears frequently with the Orchestra of the Swan, the Nottingham Harmonic Choir, the ESO (with whom she is an Affiliate Artist), also appearing with the English Chamber Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Adrian Partington. She is a champion of new work on both the concert and opera stage, having premiered multiple pieces including ‘Jane’  in John Joubert’s Jane Eyre (BBC Music Magazine’s 2017 Classical Premiere of the Year and Philip Sawyers’ Songs of Loss and Regret, 2017 Gramophone Critic’s Choice. She is a Young Artist for SOMM, with seven acclaimed recordings.

Meysam Mousavi is an Iranian painter/ illustrator based in TehranMeysam is a self-taught artist who has participated in many exhibitions and festivals in Iran and throughout the world in Poland, Japan, Turkey, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Austria and Slovakia. His Illustrations have been published in over 200 children’s books as well as in the national children’s curriculum of Iran. Meysam has had over 15 solo exhibitions of his work in Iran as well as participating in several other group exhibitions throughout the world such as the prestigious Biennale Illustration Bratislava in 2011, 2013 and 2017. He is a multi-award-winning children’s illustrator, his work appearing in books on children’s education, climate change, psychology, and the One Thousand and One Nights.

Julia Mintzer’s interactive theatre piece Pizza Parlance was listed in Nombre Art Magazine’s “5 Must-Sees of Venice Biennale” and revived for NRW-Forum Düsseldorf and the Toronto Museum of Contemporary Art.  A National Opera Association Directing Fellow, she was nominated for an Off West End Award for Best Opera Production for her Der Vampyr for Gothic Opera. Her production of Savitri for Hampstead Garden Opera was the first fully staged opera in London since the start of the pandemic, hailed as “dignified and rewarding” by Opera Magazine.  She has directed and developed new work at the Helsinki Festival, STORE Contemporary, and Cornell University. She led an all-female cast of La Bohème for MassOpera, hailed by The Theatre Times as “a fascinating, high-energy production.”  With the support of the Bogliasco Foundation, she co-created On Behalf of a Madman, premiered by Grand Harmonie and revived for The Maltings Theatre.  As a mezzo-soprano, Julia has sung leading roles with Washington National Opera, the Dresden Semperoper, and the Glimmerglass Festival, and made her UK debut as Carmen with Welsh National Opera. Julia is collaborating with Animation Director Asgar Safar to direct the illustrated film for Zal and the Phoenix, and will stage the live performance.

James Ross has conducted more than 1,000 works in 18 countries throughout EuropeNorth America and Asia, including the Royal Festival Hall, and Westminster Abbey for Queen Elizabeth II. Training first as a violinist, he studied at London’s American International School, Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford, studying history then a doctorate on French OperaPolitics and the Press awarded the Sir Donald Tovey Prize. A BBC Conducting Competition finalist, he has conducted most of the symphonic and choral repertoire, operas by Bizet, Britten, Janáček, Mozart, Verdi and Wagner, worked with singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Olga Borodina and Danielle de Niese, led numerous contemporary music premières including staged productions for the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York and Milan, and raised over $1 million in concerts for charities.

The full creative team and supporters can be found here.