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Ali Rahbari returns to restore Tehran Symphony Orchestra


Source: Tehran Times

Vienna-based Iranian maestro Ali Rahbari has returned to his homeland to restore the Tehran Symphony Orchestra (TSO), a mission that he once left unfinished in 2005. The director of the Music Office of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance attended a press conference on Wednesday to announced Rahbari's appointment as the conductor and the artistic director of the orchestra.

Iranian maestro Ali Rahbari attends a press conference at Tehran's Vahdat Hall
(photo by Majid Asgaripur, Mehr News Agency)

Rahbari, who also attended the press conference, said, "The Culture Ministry is not an entertainment agency."

"Due to the tax people pay, the ministry has a duty to raise people's culture. Thus I wish the musicians working with the orchestra can play at an international level and we can perform at the most prestigious European halls in the near future," he added.

In 2004, just a year before the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the presidential election, Rahbari was invited from Austria to reorganize the TSO, but he quit the following year over the low salaries paid to the orchestra's musicians.

Afterward, Nader Mashayekhi, another Austrian-based Iranian musician and conductor, took the helm at the orchestra. In July 2007, Mashayekhi was dismissed following his complaints over low salaries and delays in payment of wages to the musicians.

The TSO spent several months without any permanent conductor until Sahbaii was appointed to conduct the TSO in January 2008.

In early May 2010, Sahbaii also stopped conducting the symphony for "administrative problems and other difficulties."

Afterwards, guest conductors from Iran and several European countries led the orchestra in occasional concerts.

Months after Hassan Rouhani won the 2013 presidential election, Sahbaii was selected once again to restore the orchestra, which had almost been dismantled over the past five years.

However, it was not enough to break the spell and Rahbari came.

"We should be proud of a president [Rouhani], who talked about the restoration of orchestras in the country during his official speech after winning the presidential election, even if his wish is not fulfilled," Rahbari said.

Rahbari plans to perform the Symphony No. 9, Ludwig van Beethoven's final complete symphony, during his new collaboration with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra.

"This concert means the fulfillment of the wish of the president, who has many opponents," Rahbari stated.

"But in my opinion, the concert could be an appropriate way for the activities of our musicians to be widely disseminated in the world," he added.

He asked Iranian musicians to participate in the tests that he plans to hold to select members for the Tehran Symphony Orchestra.

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