Dr William Rees Hofmann’s research at the Institute of Ismaili Studies explores the connections and intellectual networks surrounding music, poetry, and early Sufi practices of samā‘ in South Asia, particularly as they relate to Nizārī Ismā‘īlī and other Shī‘a-related devotional thought and practice.
His PhD in Music from SOAS (2022), was a cultural history of music and performance practices between the Sufi environments and the Sultanate courts of early modern South Asia from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, with a special focus on Sufi poetry and song in early Hindi.
In 2022-23 Dr Hofmann was an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Performing Arts Fellow based in Gujarat and New Delhi, working on turning his research on early Sufi song text collections into a performance, recording, and lecture/demonstration, and has also previously been a research consultant at the IIS.
He has a chapter forthcoming with Routledge on the Afghan biographies of the poet-musician Amīr Ḳhusraw, and is working on turning his PhD manuscript into a book. William is also a multi-instrumentalist and composer specialising in both the Indian Sarod and the Afghan Rubab, and is the director of Ensemble Ḳhusrawi, an Indo-Persian musical ensemble. He earned a BA in Hindustani Vocal Music from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in Gujarat, and also holds an MMus degree from SOAS in Sarod and Rubab Performance, for which he was awarded the Frederick Richter Memorial Prize. William has performed internationally both solo and with Ensemble Ḳhusrawi, as well as run workshops on the classical music of Kabul.