Majid Derakhshani: Iranian composer and tar expert

Iranian-tar-musician-Majid-Derakhshani-HRMajid Derakhshani (born 13/09/1957 in Sangesar, Iran) is an acclaimed Iranian musician and composer.

He was born into a family of artists from the Iranian province Semnan. During his studies of string instruments and composition at the University of Tehran, the legendary Mohammad Reza Lotfi became his teacher.

Subsequent to his emigration to Germany he founded the Nawa Musikzentrum in Cologne; the primary and most active center for Persian classical music outside of Iran. In Iran Majid Derakhshani is deemed to be amongst the best on his instrument – the tar. Hence he carries the venerable title Ostad, denoting him as a master of his instrument. His virtuosity has been celebrated worldwide in festivals, concerts, radio and television productions. He is now considered as the best tar player in the world. He has composed for myriads of international musicians, such as the greatly renowned Iranian singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian (Album Dar Khial).

Here a video of his performance with the wonderful Mah Banoo ensemble:

More information and a list of his CDs: wikipedia | Majid Derakshani

More music-related posts: The other Iran | Music

 

Iran’s Kurdistan Province: From Sanandaj to Marivan

Sanandaj is the capital of Kurdish culture and Kurdistan Province at Iran. At the 2011 census, its population was 373,987. Until the 17th century it was only a small village, when the governor of the region, Suleyman Khan Ardalan, renovated a fortress there, known as “Sena Dezh”, which gave the town its Persian name.

The economy of Sanandaj is based upon the production of carpets, processed hides and skins, milled rice, refined sugar, woodworking, cotton weaving, metalware and cutlery.

Enjoy the photo gallery with images taken from Sanandaj to Marivan:

Post related to this region with information about Marivan:
Photo Series: Winter in Iran – Marivan, Kurdistan Province

Sources: CNNWikipedia | Sanandaj

Iranian-American music conductor and composer Shahrdad Rohani directed orchestra in Tehran

Acclaimed music conductor Shahrdad Rohani performed an orchestra for a big audience Friday night at Tehran’s Grand Hall of the Interior Ministry.

Shahrdad Rohani, born May 27, 1954 in Tehran, Iran is an Iranian-American composer, violinist/pianist, and conductor. His style is contemporary and he is well known for composing and conducting classical, instrumental, adult contemporary/new age, film soundtrack as well as pop music.

Early life
His father, Reza Rohani, was an accomplished musician and Shahrdad followed in his father’s footsteps. He started down the path of becoming a musician at the age of five when he learned to play the violin under the instruction of his father.

He was a student to a well-known Persian violinist, Ebrahim Rouhifar. At age 10 he attended the Persian National Music Conservatory of Tehran. He studied with a Swiss teacher named Basil as well as an Armenian teacher named Hagh Nazarian, who taught him to play the piano; they worked together for seven years.

After studying at the Tehran Conservatory, Shahrdad Rohani left his family, many of whom still remain in Iran, and traveled in 1975 to Austria where he attended the Academy and Conservatories of Music in Vienna. Then, in the early 1980’s, he accepted a scholarship to study music at UCLA and moved to the United States.

Musical career
From 1987 until 1991 Mr. Rohani served as the music director and conductor of the COTA symphony orchestra in Los Angeles. He has appeared as a guest conductor with a number of prestigious orchestras including London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras and many others.

Shahrdad arranged the music and conducted the orchestra to supplement Yanni’s keyboard compositions during the Yanni Live at the Acropolis concert in 1993, an open-air concert with the London Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in the Parthenon, Athens, Greece. Shahrdad also played the violin in all but two of the tracks during this concert. Yanni Live at the Acropolis was acclaimed by both critics and audience and became the most widely viewed program ever shown on Public Television in United States and is the second best-selling music video of all time.

Rohani was commissioned in 1998 by the government of Thailand and the committee of the 13th Asian Games to compose and conduct the music for opening ceremonies. The composition became the most popular song of the Asian Games.

In 1999 Rohani received the Thailand’s Pikanes award, the country’s most prestigious music award for an outstanding orchestral performance. The award is considered the highest artistic achievement.

Sources: Mehr News Agency, wikipedia, IIP Digital | U.S. Department of State

Newsha Tavakolian: Iranian photojournalist and documentary photographer

Newsha Tavakolian - Iranian photojournalistNewsha Tavakolian (born 1981 in Tehran) is an Iranian photojournalist and documentary photographer. She has worked for Time Magazine, The New York Times, Le Figaro, and National Geographic. She is particularly known for focusing on women’s issues in her work, and has been a member of the Rawiya women’s photography collective, she co-established in 2011. She lives and works in Tehran.

Career
Born and brought up in Tehran, Tavakolian is a self-taught photographer. She began working professionally in the Iranian press at age of 16, at women’s daily newspaper ‘Zan’, after a 6-month photography course. At the age of 18, she was the youngest photographer to cover the 1999 student uprising, using her Minolta with 50mm lens, her photographs were published in several publications.

She got her international break in 2001 at age 21, when she met J.P. Pappis, founder Polaris Images, New York at photography festival in Perpignan, France. Thereafter, she began covering Iran for Polaris Images, in the same year, and started working as a freelancer for The Times in 2004.

In 2002 she started working internationally, covering the war in Iraq for several months. She has since covered regional conflicts, natural disasters and made social documentary stories in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen. Her work is published in international magazines and newspapers such as Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, Colors, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, NRC Handelsblad and The New York Times Magazine.

Countering the predominantly male western dominance on photojurnalism in her region, she brought together a group of six Middle Eastern women photographers, uniting them in the RAWIYAH collective.

A common theme in her work is photo stories of women, friends and neighbours in Iran, evolving role of women in overcoming gender-based restrictions, and contrasts the stereotypes in western media. Her photo projects include Mother of Martyrs (2006), Women in the Axis of Evil (2006), The Day I Became a Woman (2010) and Look (2013), which opened at Thomas Erben Gallery, New York City.

She was part of the 2006 Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press Photo. In 2007 she was a finalist for the Inge Morath Award. Her work has been exhibited and collected at institutions such as the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Somerset House, London (April 2014), where she was one of eight Iranian photographers featured in the critically acclaimed “Burnt Generation” exhibition.

In 2012, her first book “The Fifth Pillar” was published by Gilgamesh publishers in London, covering her personal take on the annual Muslim pilgrimage, the Hajj. More recently, Newsha was commissioned by the Qatar Foundation to travel around the world for 3 months taking photographs for a book about education to be published in March 2014. Also in 2014 Newsha was a member of the 2014 World Press Photo competition jury. Her work will be exhibited in Paris in November 2014, where also her new book will be launched. After Paris the work will go on a tour to London, Frankfurt and Milan.

Awards
2014 Fifth laureate of the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award.
2009 Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize Finalist, United Kingdom
2007 Inge Morath Award, Finalist, Magnum Photo Agency, New York, United States
2006 Joop Swart Masterclass, World Press Photo, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2006 Still Photography Award from the All Roads Film Project, National Geographic, Washington, D.C, USA
2003 Runner-up in Picture of the Year International Competition, Magazine Feature Category, National Press Photographers Association and Missouri School of Journalism, USA

Books
She Who Tells a Story – Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World, Kristen Gresh with a foreword by Michket Krifa. MFA Publications, 164 pages, 110 color illustrations
2012 Fifth Pillar, Hajj Pilgrimage, by Newsha Tavakolian, Gilgamesh Publishing House
2010 A History of Women’s Photographers, by Naomi Rosenblum, Abbeville Press.
2008 Iranian Photography Now, by Rose Issa, Hatje Cantz Verlag
2009 Transit Tehran: Young Iran and Its Inspirations, by Malu Halasa and Maziar Bahari, Garnet Publishing

Sources: Newsha Tavakolian Photography, Wikipedia | Newsha Tavakolian

Series Iranian Art: Handicrafts – The art of turquoise inlaying

Iran is one of the world’s most prolific countries in producing decorative gemstones, and its sky-blue turquoise has always been a magnet for beauty seekers throughout history.

The word turquoise, which dates to the 16th century, is derived from an Old French word for “Turkish”, because the mineral was first brought to Europe through Turkey from the mines in Iran. The Iranians named it “pirouzeh” (meaning victory) and the Aztecs knew it as Teoxihuitl.

It is an opaque stone, which differs in shade from blue, green and blue-green depending on its origin. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gem and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. It takes a fine polish and does not lose color with time.

Persian turquoise is extensively found in Iran’s northeastern city of Neyshabur (Nishapur) and dates back to 4,000 BCE. Neyshabur turquoise mines, located 53 kilometers northwest of the city and near the old caravan routes, are believed to be among the world’s oldest known turquoise mines, which supplied the stone to Europe, Western Asia and America.

In Persia, turquoise was the de facto national stone for millennia, extensively used to decorate objects (from turbans to bridles), mosques, palaces and other important buildings. The massive, robin’s egg blue Persian turquoise is used in making jewelry and creating mosaics, inlays or overlays that have adorned numerous monuments over the centuries.

The Persian style and use of turquoise was later brought to India, its influence seen in high purity gold jewellery (together with ruby and diamond) and in such buildings as the Taj Mahal. Archeological excavations have yielded Persian turquoise in ancient graves in Turkistan and throughout the Caucasus dating back to the first to third century BCE.

Iranian artists use turquoise in various forms of art including calligraphy and handicrafts. Inlaid turquoise is one of the most beautiful Iranian artworks. It is made by implanting small pieces of turquoise stone in mosaic fashion on the surface of the dishes, ornaments and decorative objects with copper, brass, silver or bronze bases.

Sources:
wikipedia
Press TV
Photos by Alieh Sa’adatpour for Mehr News Agency

Photo gallery: Graduation ceremony at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran

Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT), formerly called the Tehran Polytechnic, is a public research university located in Tehran, Iran. AUT is one of the most prestigious universities, and the first established technical university in Iran, referred to as “Mother of Industrial Universities”.

Over 500 students of the Amir Kabir University of Technology celebrated their graduation in the university’s campus on Wednesday, January 14th.

The university was first founded by Habib Nafisi in 1958 and then developed by Dr. Mohammad Ali Mojtahedi, during the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty. Originally named the Tehran Polytechnic, it began its activities with five engineering departments. In 1978 the Tehran Polytechnic was renamed after the famed Iranian Prime Minister Amir Kabir (1807–1852).

Presently the university has grown to an elite school of science and engineering education with the capacity of about 10,000 students in 35 undergraduate majors, around 90 M.Sc. majors and 36 Ph.D. and post-doc programs. Acceptance in all levels of education in AUT is very competitive and only top students can enroll.

AUT has 15 departments including electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, polymer engineering, mathematics and computer science, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, civil and environmental engineering, physics and energy engineering, computer and information technology, mechanical engineering, mining and metallurgical engineering, textile engineering, petroleum engineering, ship engineering, and aerospace engineering. AUT has a well-equipped educational site in Bandar Abbas as well as an academic unit in Mahshahr.

The library and document center at AUT, the largest technical and engineering library in Iran’s capital, is one of the richest academic libraries in the technical and engineering field in the region. This library includes a central library and 16 satellite libraries in Tehran and Bandar Abbas. This library includes more than 5 million books which are mostly about computer.

Sources:
wikipedia
IRNA
AUT