Category Archives: USA

“Seekers of Light” opera performed at Boston museum by joint Israeli-Iranian band

BOSTON — Surrounded by a rotating crowd of 2,200 onlookers in a museum courtyard, Israeli and Iranian musicians premiered scenes from “Seekers of Light,” an opera written by Boston-based Matti Kovler.

[…]

The local pool of Israeli and Iranian talent, combined with an invitation to stage a musical installation at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston’s first Hanukkah festival, proved irresistible to Kovler, who decided to premiere seven scenes from “Seekers.” […]

According to the composer, the full opera will premiere in 2017 at a theater under construction in Prague, designed in part with “Seekers” in mind. For this week’s teaser performance, Kovler conducted and accompanied fourteen musicians playing classical and Persian instruments, with most vocals in Hebrew and Persian.

Playing the lead role of “Sabbatai’s soul” was Iranian musician and Berklee student Parham Haghighi, who wore a full-length white robe and burgundy scarf and sash. […]

A long way from his original home, Haghighi chanted Hebrew while surrounded by Jewish families at an American Hanukkah celebration — something Kovler called “a miracle in itself.”

“Some of the musicians arrived from Iran just two months ago and speak just a few words of English,” said Kovler. “The existence of this ensemble is very much in the spirit of Hanukkah and the freedom to seek out light in one’s own way,” he said.

US American saxophonist and Grammy Award winner Bob Belden: “I will never forget Iran”

American saxophonist Bob Belden, who gave performances with his band Animation in Tehran, says he will never forget Iran.

Trumpeter Pete Clagett, keyboardist Roberto Verastegui, drummer Matt Young, and bassist Jair-Rohm Parker Wells are other members of ‘Animation’ who accompanied Belden in the Tehran performances.

In his short speech before the concert, he expressed his happiness to have been visiting Iran, adding that he and his companions found love and happiness in the presence of the Iranian audience. The musician also referred to their trips to the historical cities of Isfahan and Shiraz and added that they were delighted to see the cities and meet their good people.

In addition, Belden said that during their trips, they met several young Iranian musicians who were very talented. He asserted that he liked Iran and its people very much and especially enjoyed Persian kebab.

He called music the common language among all nations and said that he has found many friends through music in different countries. His speech was followed by performances of several pieces, some of which were from his Grammy nominee compositions.

Speaking of his interest in visiting Iran again, he said that he would download their performance in Tehran on internet sites to let other people watch and see where the concert was performed.

The 30th edition of Fajr International Music Festival ran from February 13 to 20 in different venues across the Iranian capital Tehran.

About Bob Belden:
James Robert Belden (born October 31, 1956) is an American saxophonist, arranger, composer, bandleader and producer. He is noted for his Grammy Award winning jazz orchestral recording titled The Black Dahlia. He is also a past head of A & R for Blue Note Records.

Sources: Payvand News of Iran, Wikipedia | Bob Belden

Works by three US American painters exhibited at Tehran’s Ovissi gallery

"Winter Opera" by Fernando DeOliveira

“Winter Opera” by Fernando DeOliveira

An exhibition displaying works by three U.S. abstract painters are currently underway at Tehran’s Ovissi Gallery. Thirteen works by Sheila Rice, Fernando DeOliveira and Brian Xavier will be on display until December 17 at the exhibit.

“My work is about the flow of joy and consciousness that animates my inner world,” DeOliveira wrote in a catalogue for his exhibition, which was held at the Alternative Art Space in Boston from December 2 to 7.

“I am an emotional person who believes that we can meet through art, and my art attempts to share my emotions and perceptions with each viewer in a very personal, intimate way,” he added.

Ovissi Gallery is located at 7 Azar Alley, Nateq-Nuri St., Gol-Nabi St., Pasdaran Ave.

The works are scheduled to another exhibition, which will open at Tehran’s Sheis Gallery on December 18.

The exhibition will run for five days at the gallery, which can be found at 10 Shirzad Alley, near Daneshju Park, Vali-e Asr Ave.

Source: Payvand News of Iran

International Conference on Shakespeare Studies held in Tehran, Iran

Prof. Stephen Greenblatt: “I never thought that Shakespeare would become my magic carpet to the land of Persia”

The First International Conference on Shakespeare Studies was held on November 26 to 27, 2014 in Iran.

The conference, organized by the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures from the University of Tehran, explored themes such as ‘Shakespeare and Political Discourse’, ‘Shakespeare under the Iranian Eye’, ‘Shakespeare and Adaptation’, ‘Radical Shakespeare’, ‘Shakespeare and Mysticism’ and ‘Shakespeare and Popular Culture’.

Tehran, Iran - University of Tehran, Conference on Shakespeare Studies 2014 - 00Professor Stephen Greenblatt took part in the conference and delivered a keynote speak focused on Shakespeare and the human condition on November 26. He is one of the world’s most celebrated Shakespearean scholars and best known for Shakespeare biography titled Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare, which was on the New York Times Best Seller List for nine weeks. In 2012 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern.

“I never thought that Shakespeare would become my magic carpet to the land of Persia” said Harvard scholar Prof. Greenblatt when he expressed his enthusiasm for Iran and Persian cultural and historical heritage during the conference.

Prof. Mark Burnett from Queen’s University in Belfast, was another keynote speaker whose discussion focused on cinematic representations of Shakespeare in Iran. He talked about an Iranian adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet entitled Doubt (Tardid), a 2009 Iranian Crystal Simorgh-winning film directed by Varuzh Karim Masihi.

Iranian scholar Hossein Elahi Ghomshei, author and lecturer on literature, art and mysticism, also spoke at the conference.

The event was organized by Dr. Ismail Salami and Dr. Maryam Soltan Beyad, professors at the University of Tehran.

Source: Iran Front Page

Iran-USA Simultaneous Art Installation: A Portal Between Tehran and New York City

Shared Studios is launching the first public installation of Amar Bakshi’s Shared Studio project “A Portal BetweenTehran & NYC: Open for Conversation” by conversing through a live audio-visual connection with an individual in Tehran.

Portals are shipping containers equipped with specialized communications technology. Individuals enter one at a time and converse with a person in the other location as if they were in the same room. Simultaneous text translation is available. This first pairing unites the Lu Magnus Gallery in NYC and the M-40 Studio in Tehran.

OPEN FOR CONVERSATION
DECEMBER 5 – 19, 2014
Special Open Hours: 7:30A – 1:30P, Mon – Sun
LU MAGNUS GALLERY and M-40 STUDIO TEHRAN

Each individual is invited to enter a Portal and converse with whoever happens to be in the Tehran location, or with someone in particular upon advance request. To schedule your visit, please visit SHAREDSTUDIOS.SCHEDULISTA.COM

Powerful new technologies allow us to connect across boundaries as never before; yet we too often use them to cocoon ourselves in our own cultural, political, or ideological communities. Portals puncture hardened stereotypes of the other by facilitating one-on-one encounters. They serve as a catalyst for conversation between communities that would not typically engage with one another due to language barriers, technological limitations and hardened stereotypes of the other meeting people whom they only hear about unidirectionally in the news.

Visit the gallery for special Q&A sessions with the artist and the following New York guests:

Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld (Fri Dec 5, 1:00pm-2:00pm)
Yale Law professors and bestselling authors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld. Chua’s books include Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and World on Fire. Rubenfeld’s books include The Death Instinct and Freedom and Time.

Jonah Bokaer & James Koroni (Sat Dec 6, 1:30pm-2:30pm)
Jonah & James perform a curated dance live in the New York space, streamed live to Tehran.

Fareed Zakaria (Mon Dec 8, 10:30am-11:30am)
CNN host, Atlantic Monthly writer and bestselling author of The Post-American World and The Future of Freedom

Morgan Spurlock (Wed Dec 10, 10:00am-11:00am)
Documentary filmmaker whose titles include Supersize Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

Tania Bruguera (Thu Dec 11, 1:30pm-2:30pm)
Tania Bruguera is a Cuban installation and performance artist.

Rob Storr (Fri Dec 12, 9:00am-10:30am)
Robert Storr is the Dean of the Yale School of Art. Formerly, he was Senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art.

Mohsen Namjoo (Sat Dec 13, 1:30pm-2:30pm)
Mohsen Namjoo is an Iranian artist, songwriter, singer, music scholar and setar (traditional Persian lute) player based in California.

Nicky Nodjoumi (Sun Dec 14 – Dec 15, 11:30pm)
Nicky Nodjoumi’s works are conceived of as theatrical stages, where compositions of figures both serious and ridiculous, in the words of Phong Bui, “house meanings without irony, narratives without stories, humor without morality, above all creating a space that heightens the awareness of old and new history.”

Keller Easterling (Wed Dec 17, 9:00am-10:15am)
Architect, professor and author of books including Extrastatecraft: the Power of Infrastructure Space and Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades.

Sources: Shared Studios, Lu Magnus Gallery, Spacesmith

 

Business Insider – Jewish Australian writer Ben Winsor about visiting Iran

There's a lot to see in Tehran, but make sure you get out to see the Darband waterfalls and the nearby ski resorts, all popular with the locals.

There’s a lot to see in Tehran, but make sure you get out to see the Darband waterfalls and the nearby ski resorts, all popular with the locals.

While Iran is seen by some in the West as a country full of crazy fundamentalists hell-bent on America’s nuclear destruction, the reality you’ll see inside the country couldn’t be further from the truth.

The fact is, the majority of the Iranian public love Westerners — Americans in particular — making Iran one of the safest countries on our list even for female travelers. Opinion polls show the majority of Iranians hold a favorable opinion of Americans, making Iran second only to Israel as the most supportive population in the Middle East.

The Azadi tower (freedom tower) is an impressive gateway to the city, built to symbolize 2,500 years of Persian culture.

The Azadi tower (freedom tower) is an impressive gateway to the city, built to symbolize 2,500 years of Persian culture.To travel as a Westerner is to be routinely stopped on the street and welcomed by curious and generous Iranians. When I was there last summer I was constantly offered with cold drinks, invited to parties, and given free tours by locals.

 

There is a ton to see there: cheap ski resorts in the Alborz mountains north of Tehran, ancient clay-baked mosques in Kashan, the stunning central square of Isfahan, the Tatooine-like ruins of Na’in, and the ancient ruins of Persepolis near Shiraz.

While Western sanctions mean you can’t use your Visa or MasterCard in the country, you won’t have to take much cash. All expenses — including transport, food, and accommodation — amounted to less than $200 for my 11-day trip last year. 

Inexpensive, air conditioned buses run frequently between most cities, and a full falafel sandwich will often only set you back 25 cents. There’s amazing rosewater ice cream almost everywhere in summer for about 10 cents a cone.

persepolisJohn Moore/GettyPersepolis, literally “city of the Persians,” was the capital of the first Persian empire 2,500 years ago.

Iran is safe for female travelers. Iranian women dress fashionably, and the level of respect on the streets could be considered high even by Western standards. However, it is mandatory to wear a headscarf in public at all times. Headscarves are skimpy, colorful, and barely attached in Tehran, but in regional areas more conservative coverings are the norm.

Nain Na'in IranThe old city of the tiny town of Na’in.

Source:

Iran’s president has more cabinet members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities than Barack Obama does

Iran-cabinet members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities

Iran-cabinet members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities

“Take, for example, Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian. He spent many years in the United States and has a Ph.D. in economics from George Washington University. Or Javad Zarif, the foreign affairs minister and chief negotiator in the recent nuclear deal between Iran and six global powers. He studied at the University of San Francisco and completed his doctorate at the University of Denver. For five years, he lived in New York and was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, has a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from MIT. Mahmoud Vaezi, the communication minister, studied electrical engineering at Sacramento and San Jose State Universities and was enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Louisiana State University (he ultimately earned a doctorate in international relations at Warsaw University).  Other cabinet members have advanced degrees from universities in Europe and Iran. Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi, the transportation minister, has a Ph.D. from the University of London, while President Rouhani got his from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. The new government in Tehran, in other words, might well be one of the most technocratic in the world.”

Source: The Atlantic | The Case for Giving Iran’s Scholar-Diplomats a Chance

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