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Breaking: Iran abolishes national symphony orchestra

The ensemble, relaunched earlier this year after a two-year quietus, has been disbanded. No reason has been given – except that some officials have been quoted as saying ‘we have no budget’.

This could be an effect of the economic crisis provoked by international nuclear sanctions, or it could be the result of a religious crackdown. Either way, the orchestra is dead.

Here’s a report in Persian.

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Comments

  1. To be fair, “we have no budget” is the same excuse given by the managements of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, and all the others…

    • Thanks for letting the residents of Minnesota, Indiana and Georgia know that they live in an oppressive Islamic theocracy. Maybe they will think twice before they attend the next show of “Piss Mohammed” funded by the NEA naturally.

      • Doug, I think you completely misunderstood my comment.

        If orchestra managements in the US have locked out–and in the case of The Louisville Orchestra, attempted to disband–their orchestras with the official excuse “we have no budget,” I can only imagine how very difficult it must be for the musicians of national symphony of Iran.

        I did not in any way imply that there is any comparison other than the excuse given by all the orchestras’ managements, so please don’t put words in my mouth.

        • To be fair, Alison …

          “I can only imagine how very difficult it must be for the musicians of national symphony of Iran. I did not in any way imply that there is any comparison other than the excuse given by all the orchestras’ managements, so please don’t put words in my mouth.”

          Alison, I’m afraid that wasn’t at all clear from your original comment, which read like snark to me as well.

          I didn’t draw the same inference from your comment that Doug did; it read to me as though you were dismissing the “we have no budget” statement as so much bunk from hostile officials – be they in Tehran or Atlanta or the Twin Cities.

          I won’t comment on the rightness or wrongness of the sanctions against the Iranian regime, or said regime’s stewardship of Iran’s economy. But the economic hardship there, whatever its causes, is far greater than anything we Slipped Disc readers in wealthy anglophone nations have to face. It’s likely that there really isn’t enough money to operate Iran’s national orchestra right now.

  2. Clyde McConnell says:

    From the photograph, I’d say they have been performing in almost a shoebox. They may have run out of air.

  3. It’s heartbreaking. We simply cannot fathom in the west what it takes to keep an orchestra in that environment alive. But if the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra is anything to go by, the musicians will keep going by stealth, because you cannot stop people making music. Check out these pictures of the music school in Kabul, and tell me it’s all over. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150480136607385.361741.125845992384&type=3

  4. Hi Norman,

    The photo included with this article is in fact the Tehran Symphony Orchestra not the Iranian National Symphony Orchestra.

    I conducted two performances with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra two years ago . I was only the second western conductor to have conducted them in recent times. It was a fantastic experience, the musicians were wonderfull people (50% of the orchestra are female!) and played with great spirit and energy.

    They have severe financial problems but have managed to stay the course and play to packed houses in their magnificant Opera house.

    Sadly, there is no longer any Opera performed in Iran as solo female singing is forbidden unless the female soloist is enbedded in the chorus.

    The program I conducted consisted of two Iranian compositions composed by their very talented concertmaster “Arsalan Kamkar”, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsalan_Kamkar ) A concert suite and a three movement concerto for “Kamanche” (traditional Iranian string instrument) and orchestra. With Tchaikovsky 6th symphony in the second half!

    I look forward to going back to conduct them again soon, :)

    Best,

    Derek

    • “Sadly, there is no longer any Opera performed in Iran as solo female singing is forbidden unless the female soloist is embedded in the chorus.

      Maybe they could do Billy Budd or From the House of the Dead?

  5. Actually, there seems to be some confusion as to whether it’s the Tehran Symphony Orchestra or the National Symphony Orchestra of Iran (or both?) which has closed.

    I’ve now seen two different AP reports. This one – http://news.yahoo.com/musicians-irans-national-orchestra-disbanded-133557208.html – says it’s the National Symphony. This one – http://music.yahoo.com/news/iran-orchestra-finale-rings-hard-line-pressure-153826315.html – says it’s the Tehran Symphony. Both use similar quotes.

    I don’t read Persian, I’m afraid, and the Google-Translated-into-English version of the Persian report that Norman linked to isn’t clear.; both orchestras are referred to.

    Can anyone here clarify?

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