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Controversy over Tehran Symphony performance in Rotterdam

By Pejman Akbarzadeh* (Source: Radio Zamaneh)

Iran has sent Tehran Symphony Orchestra to Europe to perform the "Peace Symphony" by Majid Entezami. The performance has stricken up a wave of controversy as domestic musicians questioned the artistic merits of the composition and Persians in exile question the Islamic Republic's intentions in funding a performance abroad under the name of "peace" while it is engaged in executing dissidents in Iran.

performance in Italy

The new series of Tehran Symphony Orchestra performances started just as public minds in Europe were highly affected by the images of violent confrontations with post-election protesters.

The Orchestra has been sent to Europe conducted by Manouchehr Sahbai and the Islamic Republic has advertised the events in top European newspapers as "music for Peace, a free performance by Tehran Symphony Orchestra."

performance in Brussels

In Brussels, at the venue chosen for the performance, Zamaneh caught up with a Persian resident of Belguim distributing flyers. Siamak told Zamaneh: "Some are of the opinion that music should not be mixed with politics. Our flyer does no hanker on politics; we just ask people, how come a government that limits musical performances with numerous restrictions within its own frontiers decides to hold a free concert in Europe? A few likened it to the Eastern block or the Second World War and there was also someone from the Iranian Embassy who kept recording who's coming and going."

"We just want to make people aware of not letting them buy their silence regarding the current atrocities that are being committed in Iran," Siamak added.

performance in Brussels

The advertisement for the Tehran Symphony Orchestra in European media makes no reference to the Islamic Republic or its embassies.

Iranian authorities have chosen the grand De Doelen Concert Hall in Rotterdam for Tehran Symphony Orchestra's performance in the Netherlands. The tickets, as in Brussels, are complimentary and have been sent to special guests directly by the Islamic Republic Embassy.

The Iranian Embassy in The Hague has refused to comment on the matter. However, the concert has turned into a political controversy after widespread protests from political and human rights activists.

performance in France

Pejman Salim, lawyer and student activist has written an open letter to Rotterdam City Council and Dutch media calling for an annulment of the performance. Reflection of protests in Dutch media has also drawn the support of two Members of the Dutch Parliament. Marten Haverkamp criticized the "absurdity" of such a performance in Holland and said: "Iran sends the 'Peace Symphony' to Europe but we can hear the sounds of war from within its borders."

Harry von Bommel, Dutch MP, told Holland-based Persian radio station 'Zamaneh': "I believe Rotterdam should be ashamed of having such a concert in one of its most prominent venues. Especially in the same week that two protesters were hanged in Iran."

* This article was originally published in Persian on Amsterdam-based Radio Zamaneh website. Pejman Akbarzadeh is a pianist and journalist who lives in the Netherlands.

See Also:

- Another Look at the Tehran Symphony Orchestra's Concert in Germany (Zamaneh/Payvand News. 2006)

... Payvand News - 01/30/10 ... --

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