Orchestra barred over women mu­si­cians

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Ahigh-pro­file per­for­mance in Iran by the Tehran Symphony Orchestra was can­celled at the last minute be­cause it was due to fea­ture fe­male mu­si­cians, its fu­ri­ous con­duc­tor said yes­ter­day. Ali Rah­bari said he was told 15 min­utes be­fore the orchestra was sched­uled to play at a ma­jor sport­ing event that they could not. “The chairs were laid out and ev­ery­thing looked fine,” he said, re­fer­ring to the World Wrestling Clubs Cup com­pe­ti­tion which opened in the Ira­nian cap­i­tal on Thurs­day. “But be­fore per­form­ing the na­tional an­them, all of a sud­den they an­nounced women can­not play on stage.”

Nei­ther Rah­bari or the ISNA news agency, which re­ported his com­ments, de­tailed who “they” were. “I was of­fended and said it was im­pos­si­ble for me to ac­cept such an in­sult,” Rah­bari added. “We ei­ther play all to­gether or we leave”. Ef­forts to re­solve the is­sue failed. “It’s ab­so­lutely im­pos­si­ble for women to play mu­si­cal in­stru­ments on stage,” Rah­bari quoted or­ga­niz­ers of the cer­e­mony as say­ing. Banned from singing solo in pub­lic since the Is­lamic revo­lu­tion of 1979, fe­male Ira­nian mu­si­cians have re­peat­edly com­plained of hav­ing been stopped from per­form­ing, par­tic­u­larly out­side Tehran.

But Thurs­day’s re­fusal, ac­cord­ing to ISNA, was the first time a per­for­mance by the Symphony Orchestra, one of Iran’s old­est, had been can­celled be­cause of its fe­male mem­bers. “They in­vited us them­selves and yet they dis­re­spected us,” Rah­bari said. “Why shouldn’t they be al­lowed to per­form the na­tional an­them of their coun­try?”The is­sue of mu­sic in pub­lic has resur­faced in the past year with artists re­peat­edly com­plain­ing they have been stopped from per­form­ing at short no­tice de­spite hav­ing of­fi­cial au­tho­riza­tion. Iran’s Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani, a mod­er­ate elected in 2013, has said that as long as artists and mu­si­cians have a per­mit from the cul­ture min­istry then no one should stop them from work­ing.

But many con­certs have been can­celled re­gard­less with lit­tle ex­pla­na­tion. Re­li­gious lead­ers have spo­ken out against them and con­ser­va­tives claim mu­sic can “ex­cite and cause de­vi­a­tion” among the coun­try’s youth. Since 1979, state tele­vi­sion has rarely shown mu­si­cal in­stru­ments on screen. Re­cent con­cert can­cel­la­tions have been viewed by some Ira­ni­ans as a tac­tic used by the coun­try’s ul­tra­con­ser­va­tive es­tab­lish­ment to push back against Rouhani’s gov­ern­ment. Rouhani has urged mod­er­a­tion and he was the po­lit­i­cal driv­ing force be­hind a July deal with six world pow­ers, led by the United States, on Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram.

But that agree­ment was fol­lowed by warn­ings from Iran’s supreme leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei that the coun­try must pro­tect it­self against Amer­i­can “in­fil­tra­tion”. At the wrestling com­pe­ti­tion at Tehran’s Azadi sta­dium, two Ira­nian clubs took first and third place. The Ti­tan Mer­cury Wrestling Club from the United States, who en­tered the sta­dium with an Ira­nian man car­ry­ing the US flag, came sec­ond.—AFP

Peo­ple dance in front of a12-me­ter-high Christ­mas tree con­structed of 121 old win­dows that come from lo­cal old houses as it is il­lu­mi­nated in Rak­vere, East­ern Es­to­nia yes­ter­day.—AFP

A file pic­ture taken on March 16, 2015 shows Ira­nian con­duc­tor Ali Rah­bari (cen­ter) and the Tehran Symphony Orchestra greeted by the au­di­ence af­ter per­form­ing at the Vah­dat Hall in Tehran.—AFP

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