By Zahra Ziaie, Salam Toronto
An event deserves to be called historic when it offers an experience that has thus far been unavailable. Usually, a lot of innovation and courage has been spent on making the experience available for the very first time. The next time the experience is offered up, it might be less innovative but for that very same reason, it may very well be more brilliant. Indeed, the second event, since it is a repeat, has had the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the first. But irrespective of how great the second event is, it will not be historic.
The Shahnameh Millennium Concert, which brought the Seventh Biennial Iranian Studies Conference to a dramatic close, was a truly historic event.
Did it make its fair share of mistakes? Yes. But that is just part of the flavor of being a forerunner. There is o way that someone can bring about a ground-breaking event without discovering along the way that there are better ways to do some things. Making those discoveries is one of the motivating reasons behind engaging in ground-breaking work to begin with.
So could the Shahnameh Khani and the musical performance by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra been integrated together more harmoniously? Yes. Could the concert have made better use of multimedia? Yes. Could it have included more and better-quality artwork to compliment the audio program? Yes. Could the English-language descriptions about what was going on in the story that were provided have been more elaborate and made more accessible to the audience? Yes. Taking these things into consideration next time will make a similar concert at the Roy Thomson Hall an even better event.
Now, can there be a next time? Can an entire concert wholly dedicated to an aspect of Iranian culture be put on at the Roy Thomson Hall? YES. Thanks to the Shahnameh Millennium Concert, and the committed team behind it, the way has been paved for many more events of this kind to take place in the future. All that is required now is for the Iranian community in Toronto to continue the momentum, to strive to build on what we have already, making the next time better - every time.
How do you think a Shakespeare play is what it is today? The first time the quintessential story of Romeo and Juliet - a story of passionate love between a young man and woman - was performed on stage, both the characters of Romeo and Juliet were played by male actors! British theatre has come a long, long way since then.
This is just the beginning for the Iranian cultural scene in Toronto. I envision a future in which concerts dedicated to Ferdosi's poetic masterpiece are an annual event in this city - a future in which the Shahnameh, its story, its characters, its values, are transmitted through a plethora of media to members of Iranian and non-Iranian communities alike so that we may all learn of and aspire to the wisdom and humanity that it encapsulates. This is the Spring of a beautiful Summer to come.
About the author: Zahra Ziaie began writing for Salam Toronto as a weekly columnist in 2003, when she was in her first year at the University of Toronto. She has recently completed her Honours B.A, graduating with High Distinction, and will be continuing her education as a law student at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. Her keen interest in social issues, especially those pertaining to youth, explain her active involvement in community service projects in the GTA, and across the province and country.
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