Just in: British conductor to lead in Iran

Just in: British conductor to lead in Iran


norman lebrecht

December 28, 2015

It has been officially announced that Mark Stephenson will conduct the Tehran Symphony Orchestra at Vahdat Hall on January 19 and 20.

He’s the first Brit to lead there since… anyone remember the last one?


Mark’s an accomplished walker on the wild side.



  • Alexander Hall says:

    Mark learned his conducting craft as a member of the cello section of the Philharmonia Orchestra, standing in for maestri like Sinopoli, before he formed his own chamber ensemble, the London Musici. He is one of many who has come up through the ranks and is the better for it: conductors who were once humble musicians themselves are less likely to be afflicted with the ego-mania so typical of those who have gone straight from music college to the next available podium.

    • Sasha says:

      What a nice generalization, Alexander. Do a bit more research and you’ll find out that playing in an orchestra won’t protect you from “ego-mania”. I could mention several conductors – some of them very successful – who played years in concert master or principal positions, and today they are the biggest jerks on the podium. No names, to protect the innocent…

      • Alexander Hall says:

        Well, let’s be specific for a change. How much do you know about the lives of people like Carlo Maria Giulini (who played viola under Bruno Walter) or Colin Davis (a fine oboist before he took up conducting; the same applies to Mackerras) or Neville Marriner (who served for many years in the string sections of the Philharmonia and the LSO). I could name many more to substantiate the point I was making. Now, how about YOU naming some of your “jerks”?

  • Donald L. Oehler says:

    My name is Donald Oehler, Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina and clarinetist and conductor. I was principal clarinet with the Teheran Symphony from 1968- 1970. During that time we had several guest conductors and yes, one was from England, I believe. I am sorry to say I can not bring his name up at all. I wish Mr. Stephenson the best for his journey to Teheran. The people are wonderful, the orchestra is renewed with some vigor and I suspect he will have a grand time. I remember the orchestra responding well to guest conductors, especially to those that were prepared. Their present leader, Ali Rahbari, is a fine conductor and from what little exposure I can get via internet it seems he has really brought up the level of performance back to where it was before the revolution. The musicians are proud of their work and they deserve to be.

    • Mark Stephenson says:

      Dear Donald. So interested to read your post and thanks for your good wishes. Do you know Novin Afrouz, the Iranian pianist who is playing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto in the concerts I am conducting with the TSO? My trip in January follows on from a musical mission I made to Tehran last May to understand how the re-opened orchestra is functioning. I admire the musicians so much and plan to help Maestro Rahbari and the Orchestra as much as I can, as they re-connect with the music world internationally. Its a wonderful project. Best regards. Mark

  • Barbara says:

    He looks like Alan Rickman in the posted photo. Just saying.

  • canan maxton says:

    I am hoping that this venture of yours is going to lead to some extraordinary developments. Bravo again!