French conductor leads Tehran orchestra in sign of growing ties

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TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) – Rising cultural ties between Iran and Europe had been on show on Wednesday evening as a French-Iranian conductor turned one of many first Westerners to steer the Tehran Symphony Orchestra for the reason that revolution.

Iran’s efforts to rebuild ties with the West – most notably by way of a nuclear cope with world powers – have triggered a flood of vacationers and commerce delegations into the nation.

Cultural hyperlinks are extra delicate however are slowly growing, and Wednesday evening’s efficiency of two items by Gabriel Faure had been considered the primary time the Tehran orchestra’s choir has sung in French.

It marks one other step in conductor Pejman Memarzadeh’s efforts to attach his Iranian birthplace and adopted residence in France.

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“I’ve all the time been very inquisitive about making an attempt to carry these two civilisations, these two nice international locations, nearer collectively,” the 44-year-old informed AFP.

He was talking forward of the live performance within the 750-seat Vahdat Corridor, one of many best-equipped opera homes when it opened throughout the time of the shah within the 1960s, with solely a barely light grandeur at this time.

The orchestra itself is celebrating its 80th anniversary, having lived by way of some darkish days, significantly simply after the 1979 revolution when a lot music – significantly Western – was banned.

Uncared for for a few years, the orchestra has seen a revival below reasonable President Hassan Rouhani, and whereas Western pop music remains to be frowned upon by Iran’s conservative authorities, the classics are as soon as once more extensively taught and practised.

‘Very a lot alive’

Memarzadeh, who left Iran as a younger boy within the 1970s and based the Orchestre de l’Alliance in France within the 1990s, stated a part of his mission was to attract consideration to Iran’s missed classical music heritage.

“Iran is a really historical civilisation with a excessive degree of conventional music in its roots, however individuals are most likely much less conscious that like different extremely cultured international locations… classical music has been practised right here for a very long time,” he stated.

“There have been nice artists, nice conductors, nice composers. The apply of classical musical may be very a lot alive in Iran.”

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Shardad Rohani, musical director of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, stated one in all Iran’s nice benefits was the persevering with curiosity of younger individuals in classical music.

“The typical age of the orchestra is 25, and I’d say 80 p.c of the audiences are younger followers. In Europe, it’s the alternative,” Rohani informed AFP.

The expertise is homegrown, with many learning on the conservatory throughout the highway.

“One constructive factor concerning the Tehran Symphony Orchestra is that they’re all Iranians. All of them studied right here… and that reveals that classical music is alive and properly,” he stated.

This isn’t Memarzadeh’s first musical foray in Iran.

In 2002, he led the primary efficiency by a Western orchestra in Iran for the reason that revolution, and final yr returned to carry out at historic websites together with the traditional ruins at Persepolis.

The nuclear deal signed with world powers in 2015 “has helped rebuild belief,” he stated.

“Creative, cultural and academic tasks are crucial as a result of they assist remind us of what unites us and what is going to assist us construct a greater and extra constructive future,” he stated.