Italy’s former ambassador to Iran to US American audience: No, Iranians don’t hate you

Roberto Toscano - Italy’s ambassador to Iran, 2003-2008

Roberto Toscano – Italy’s ambassador to Iran, 2003-2008

In 2004, when I was Italy’s ambassador to Iran, I had the occasion to tour the country together with a couple of American friends, at the beginning rather hesitant to come and visit, but then overwhelmed by the hospitality and politeness that are so typically Iranian and even more by the “extra” of both hospitality and politeness that came out when people realized that they were American.

One episode has remained marked in their memory (and in mine too): at the end of a visit to the tomb of the poet Saadi in Shiraz a mullah, who had been listening to the English translation of our guide, and had asked him where those tourists were from, went up to my friend, shook his hand, said (in English) “God bless you” and left.

most people who have seen the recent movie Argo … are convinced that what they see is contemporary Iran: still hostile, still radical, still violently and massively anti-American.
The truth is rather different. Certainly the regime finds in anti-Americanism a sort of marker of identity …What is interesting, however, is that anti-American rhetoric is not focused on what America is, but on what America does. … the 1953 Anglo-American coup against Mossadeq or the support given to Saddam in its 1980 aggression against Iran.
The fact is, however, that this regime narrative, and the hostility toward the U.S., is not really shared by the majority of Iranians.

Iran — and this will surprise the average American — is not a closed country, and its citizens can travel abroad, if they get the necessary entry visas, of course. In the second place, educated Iranians (not a narrow minority, differently from other countries in the area) have access to reliable information about the world and also about the U.S., in spite of the attempts of the regime to filter “subversive” material in both TV programs and internet traffic.

Actually, I found that in Iran there is a lot of admiration for America: not necessarily for its policy, but for its economy and for its culture, wildly popular especially among Iranian youth.

A strong proof of the fact that America is not hated by Iranians came with September 11, when thousands of Iranians went spontaneously to the streets for a candlelight vigil in homage and solidarity to the victims of the attack on the Twin Towers.

The lack in Iran of the generalized and often virulent anti-Americanism that characterizes Middle Eastern populations is something that Americans traveling in Iran, even in the present tense political situation, can testify. Not only is there no hostility toward American citizens, but instead we see curiosity and friendship at the same time, though often combined with criticism for specific U.S. policies and behavior.

Definitely crowds chanting ‘marg bar Amrika’ (death to America) are today both very rare and not very much convinced: they tend to be formed by activists bused to the demonstrations.

Many, if not most Iranians, may be fed up with the regime, especially in its present incarnation in President Ahmadinejad, but they are a proud, patriotic people. They have problems with their leaders, but not with their country, especially in the event of an external attack.

The full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roberto-toscano/no-iranians-dont-hate-you_b_2972677.html

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Photo gallery: Iran Fajr Music Festival 2015 – Summary, Winners & Closing Ceremony

Fajr International Music Festival is Iran’s most prestigious Music Festival founded in 1986. The festival is affiliated with UNESCO and includes national and international competition sections.

Since its establishment, many musicians from several countries like Austria, Germany, France participated in the event. The festival have enjoyed a strong presence of Asian countries as well.

This year ten foreign groups performed 15 concerts. The groups were from USA, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Estonia, Armenia, Tunisia and Iraq:

[Click the names of the artists to see the according posts and photo galleries on this blog]
US American saxophonist and Grammy Award winner Bob Belden and his band Animation
Austria-based German clarinet virtuoso Ulrich Drechsler.
Italian jazz pianist Stefano Battaglia.
Italian quartet Maurice led by violinist it Georgia Privera. Laura Bertolino, Francesco Vernero and Aline Privitera are the other members of the quartet.
The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra.
German Jazz-pianist and composer Johan Wendt, also known as Joja Wendt.
A string orchestra from Estonia, two duets from Armenia and musicians from Austria and Tunisia.
Dutch quartet composed of tenor and soprano saxophonist Yuri Honing, pianist Wolfert Brederode, double bassist Ruben Samama and drummer Joost Lijbaart.

In the National Music section, Mohammad Reza Amou-Javadi was selected as the best composer. While, Kourosh Matin, Keyvan A’laei, Massoud Najafi and Hassan Soleimani were honored.

Houman Rofrof and Mohammad Hadi Ayanbod were jointly awarded as best composers in the non-Iranian Classical Music section. Ali Afshari was also honored. The Hamnavazan ensemble topped the Iranian Classical Music section.

Amir Hossein Ramezani and Maryam Sharifzadeh topped the Music Theses section, while Pirouzan Kouhi was honored.

The Ava-ye Mahan Choir, conducted by Nima Fatehi, was honored as the best vocal.

Sources: wikipedia | Fajr International Music Festival, Tehran Times, Iran Daily, IRNA | Photos, IRIB | Galleries, Tasnim News | Photos

30th Fajr International Music Festival in Iran – Photo gallery (part 2)

Some of the performers shown in the photo gallery below were covered earlier in this blog. To get some back ground and more photos or videos, please click:
http://theotheriran.com/tag/music/

Click on a photo to open in original size, and navigate through the gallery.

Sources:
IRNA| Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
ISNA | Photos 1, 2, 3
Tasnim News | Photos 1, 2

German animation “Virtuoso Virtual” wins in Tehran International Animation Festival 2015

The 9th Tehran International Animation Festival was held from March 8 to 12. Over 130 works from across the globe were screened at the event.

German animation “Virtuoso Virtual” directed by Thomas Stellmach and Maja Oschmann has won the top prize in the International section of the 9th Tehran International Animation Festival, the organizers announced on Thursday.

“Virtuoso Virtual” shows some modest drawings that seem to come from nowhere. Following a secret choreography, they take on characteristics and moods of the music and narrate a story that appears to be laid out in the music.

The second prize went “All the Winters I Haven’t Seen”, Iranian animator Omid Khoshnazar’s acclaimed anti-war animation.

It tells the story of a pregnant woman in New York City who discovers that her fetus suffers severe physical defects. Totally unaware of the problem, the mother finds that she has been exposed to chemical weapons, a matter entirely absent from her medical records.

“Coda” directed by Irish animator Alan Holly received the third prize. “Coda” is about the afterlife. It shows some exotic experiences and the possibility of forgiveness.

Iranian animator and writer Mehdi Alibeygi was presented with the special jury award for his surreal short film “Changeover”.

“My Mom Is an Airplane” directed by Yulia Aronova from Russia was crowned best film in the About Children Section.

Award Title Winner Country
1 Golden Statue for the best animation Virtuoso Virtual Thomas Stellmach and Maja Oschmann Germany
2 Silver Statue for the second animation All winters that I haven’t seen Omid Khoshnazar Iran
3 Bronze Statue for the third animation Coda Alan Holly Ireland
4 Golden Statue for the best animation on the theme of children and young adults My Mum Is an Airplane Yulia Aronova Russia
5 Golden Statue for the best student animation Carn Jeff Le Bars France
6 Golden Statue for the best TV production Kung Fu Bunny (Kitchen War) Zhiyong Li China
7 Golden Statue for the best commercial animation Venice / Massi Simone Icaro Massi Italy
8 Special Statue of the jury Change over Mahdi Alibeigi Iran
9 Special Statue of the director of the festival —- Alexander Petrov Russia
10 Honorary diploma Green Fields Benjamin Vedrenne France
11 Honorary diploma Indah Citra Pierre-Antoine Naline, Sarah Feruglio, Maxime Orhnial, Anthony Oliveira France

Sources: Payvand News, Tehran International Animation Festival, TIAF | Photos

Italian jazz pianist Stefano Battaglia performed in Iran

The two-part rendition by the famous Italian pianist Stefano Battaglia and the renowned German clarinet player Ulrich Drechsler saw music fans fill the hall leaving no vacant seats.

The duet, performed Saturday night, in the international section of the festival at Tehran’s Rudaki Hall, had the audience mesmerized for the high quality musical by the two virtuosos, IRNA reports.

Read more what Ulrich Drechsler said about Iran and Iranians here

Sources: Italian Embassy Tehran, Financial Tribune, IRNA | Photos

 

Austria-based German clarinet virtuoso Ulrich Drechsler: “I like Iranians for their kindness, politeness, and hospitality.”

Austria-based German clarinet virtuoso Ulrich Drechsler attended the 30th Fajr International Music Festival in Iran.

Austria based German clarinet virtuoso Ulrich Drechsler

Austria based German clarinet virtuoso Ulrich Drechsler

“I am addicted to food. When I came to Iran and a friend took me to a restaurant in northern district of Tehran and had kebab with a taste of saffron, I was in high spirits,” Ulrich Drechsler told the Persian service of ISNA on Sunday.
“Pomegranate juice and saffron ice cream, these are incredible and awesome. You make use of a variety of spice and vegetables in your food. I think I would own a restaurant in Iran if I could come back to this world once again,’ he exclaimed.

He continued that this is his second trip to Iran and hoped to return again in spring or summer.

“I have only stayed in Tehran during these days and have got to know only a little part of your culture. My friends have shown beautiful places like the Music Museum of Iran, and I was surprised to see such numbers of Iranian musical instruments,” he stated.

“I must say that the main thing in my life is my family, then food and after that music. I have fallen in love with Iranian life and the Iranian mentality,” he stated.

Drechsler also noted that he has got familiar with Iranian traditional music through works of Kayhan Kalhor, the famous Kamancheh (knee fiddle) player, and is a big fan of his works. He believes that music in Iran comes from the heart of the players so the factor of emotion “is so prominent in it.” Coming for the second time to Iran, he said, “I like Iranians for their kindness, politeness, and hospitality.”

Ulrich Drechsler and Italian jazz pianist Stefano Battaglia have given two performances at the festival, which will come to an end on February 20.

The Iranian audience was highly entertained by a series of lullabies that Ulrich Drechsler performed at his concerts during the festival.

All posts about Music and foreign musicians in Iran on this blog:
http://theotheriran.com/tag/music/

Sources: Financial Tribune, Tehran Times

Hossein Alizadeh: Iranian Grammy Award nominee tours Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Italy starting Feb 27

Iranian tar virtuoso Hossein Alizadeh is scheduled to tour Europe to perform a series of concerts entitled “The Art of Improvisation”.

Kamancheh player Saba, who is Alizadeh’s son, and tombak virtuoso Behnam Samani will accompany him during the tour, which will begin at the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in Gothenburg, Sweden on February 27.

The group will then perform at the Hvidovre Main Library in Copenhagen, the most populated city in Denmark.

Cosmopolite Scene in Oslo, Norway, will be the next stop for the ensemble on March 1 and then the group will leave for Venice to perform at the Centro Culturale Candiani on March 6.

The tour will come to an end at San Luigi Guanella, a major theater in Rome, on March 7.

The concerts will offer an attractive combination of traditional Persian music with an amalgam of percussion and stringed indigenous Iranian instruments.

About Hossein Alizadeh:
Hossein Alizâdeh , is an Iranian composer, radif-preserver, researcher, teacher, and tar and setar instrumentalist and improviser, described by Allmusic as a leading Iranian classical composer and musician.

He has made numerous recording with prominent musicians including Shajarian, Nazeri, Madjid Khaladj, and Gasparyan, and is a member of the Musical group, Masters of Persian Music.

Alizadeh was born in 1951 in Tehran to Azeri and Persian parents. He graduated from the music conservatory in 1975 and entered the school of fine arts in the University of Tehran where he studied composition and Persian music. He continued his education at the Berlin University of the Arts in composition and musicology. He studied with various masters of Traditional Persian Music such as Houshang Zarif, Ali Akbar Shahnazi, Nur-Ali Borumand, Mahmoud Karimi, Abdollah Davami, Yusef Forutan, and Sa’id Hormozi. From these masters he learned the radif of Persian classical music.

Alizadeh has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia and has appeared on many radio and television programs, including Radio France, RIAS in Berlin, WDR in Cologne, the BBC, KCRW in Los Angeles, and KPFA in Berkeley. Some of Alizadeh’s most noted compositions are, The Nava Improvisations (1976), Riders of the Plains of Hope (1977), Hesar (1977), Revolt (1983) for harp, string orchestra, and percussion, NeyNava (1983), Dream (1986) for harp and flute, Torkaman (1986), Raz-O-Niaz (1986), and Song of Compassion (1991).

He has been nominated for the 2007 Grammy Award along with Armenian musician, Djivan Gasparyan, for their collaboration album, The Endless Vision. In 2008, he was voted as “Iran’s most distinguished musician of the year”.

Listen to his music on last.fm: http://www.last.fm/music/Hossein+Alizadeh

Sources: Tehran Times , Wikipedia | Hossein Alizadeh , Iran Chamber