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When Art Creates a Bridge between Culture and Policy

Tehran, 1 September 2007 (CHN) - For the first time after 28 years, Tehran was host of a Western European orchestra on 29 and 30th of August in Vahdat and Aseman concert halls. The magnificent performance of Osnabruck Philharmonic Orchestra from Germany, which was consisted of 60 German musicians accompanied by 6 Iranian artists, opened a new horizon for being hopeful for repetition of such cultural events in Iran.

Last year's performance of Tehran's Symphony Orchestra Concert in Osnabruck was greatly welcomed by artistic figures of Osnabruck and attracted the attention of cultural and artistic associations of all western countries and was broadcast live on German TV and radio. It seems as though, this performance paved the ground for further cultural interactions between Iran and western European countries.

The Osnabruck Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied its 60-member troupe, Michael Dreyer, founder and executive director of Morgenland Festival Osnabruck, Herman Broimer, conductor of Osnabruck Orchestra came to Iran by the invitation of the Music and Poetry Department of Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

According to Michael Dreyer, the 37-year-old German founder and executive director of Morgenland Festival Osnabruck, this cultural exchange could contribute to an easing of the political tension between Iran and the West. "It is a very small step in improving relations between the people in the two countries," he said. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German's Foreign Minister who is the patron of the event, and star conductor Daniel Barenboim are among those who are trying to promote the cultural interactions between the two countries.

Although based on earlier programs, Shahram Nazeri, Iranian famous traditional vocalist, was supposed to cooperate with Osnabruck Orchestra by singing verses of Rumi, Persian mystic poet, due to recent changes in leadership of Tehran's Symphonic Orchestra, this joint performance was canceled and Osnabruck Philharmonic Orchestra performed the concert by itself. However, Osnabruck Orchestra has expressed hope for continuation of cooperation between artists of the two countries in future.

"I hope that such cultural exchange projects will soon become normality, even between the West and the Islamic world," said Dreyer. He told reporters in Tehran that: "the exchange hoped to show to both countries that there are lots of similarities between us and no reason to fear each other."

Dreyer visited Tehran several times over the past year in order to prepare the ground for holding the concert. The trips were fully coordinated with Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic guidance. Due to Islamic regulations in Iran, the process for getting the permission for holding such a concert in Tehran was not that easy. There is a Persian proverb: you should overcome seven obstacles to success, however, the Osnabruck Orchestra did it. The orchestra's director also said that the visit was mainly aimed at cultural understanding, and not politics. "I am very glad that the women tried to cover their heirs and it was fine. What is most important is the music," said Broimer.

The news of holding this concert in Iran was widely spread around the world and all artistic associations looked to this cultural event in a very positive way. "Wednesday night's performance, with female performers covering their hair, was well received by its Iranian audience," says newstime7.

The Leonore Overture no. 3, which is one of the four overtures written by Beethoven for his only opera, concerto for cello and orchestra in E minor of Sir Edward Elgar, the British romantic composer, which is one of the most widely performed pieces for the cello, symphony no. 4 of Johannes Brahms, the 19th century German composer, was performed during by Osnabruck Philharmonic Orchestra in Tehran which was highly welcomed by Iranian audiences and cultural and artistic enthusiasts.

In only two years, the Morgenland Festival Osnabruck has ascended to the first league of international music festivals. It features the music from the Orient, from traditional music to the avant-garde. Last year's Morgenland Festival has had an international echo in the most important media like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Australian News, and many others. When it comes to Oriental music, its tope, the Morgenland Festival Osnabruck is certainly one of the most important festivals in the Western world at this time.

In 2007, the festival's program includes the first appearance of the Cairo National Ballet in Germany, concerts by the Osnabruck Philharmonic Orchestra in Tehran and many other projects. Although the festival is based on Osnabruck, cooperations are planned with Wien Modern and the Lincoln Center, New York.

A sensation in cultural policy, as well as top-notch and dance from the Middle East are featured in the program of the Morgenland Festival Osnabruck.

News reports over the past several years indicate that the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra has performed in Tehran, along with an orchestra from Ukraine and a chamber group from Waidhofen-Ybbs in Austria that accompanied a trade delegation. A four-member group from Hamburg, Germany, specializing in contemporary music, ensemble Integrales, has been in Iran twice in recent years.

Prior to the Islamic Revolution, foreign orchestras performed regularly in Iran, including the Berlin Philharmonic and its legendary conductor Herbert von Karajan. However, Tehran's orchestra was dissolved following the revolution. In the past decade some attempts have been made to revive classical music in Iran. Tehran's Symphonic Orchestra gives regular concerts, mixing western classics with compositions by Iranian composers. However, the performance of classical and traditional Iranian music as well as instrumental versions of western music has been allowed by Iranian clerics.

Soudabeh Sadigh

... Payvand News - 9/8/07 ... --

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