Just in: Riccardo Muti reaches out to Iran

press release:

On July 6 and 8, over 200 Italian and Iranian musicians will make history with two concerts, performing together on stage in Tehran and Ravenna led by Italian cultural ambassador, Riccardo Muti. The project, instigated and curated by the Ravenna Festival in collaboration with the Roudaki Foundation, Tehran, celebrates 20 years of “The Roads of Friendship” – an annual lay pilgrimage, re-establishing ancient ties to places of historical importance.

Joining Riccardo Muti on stage in both Tehran and Ravenna are the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, musicians from Italy’s major theatres, the chorus of Piacenza’s Municipal Theatre and members of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra and Choir. The programme is dedicated to highlights from Verdi’s operas with Italian soloists Piero Pretti, Luca Salsi and Riccardo Zanellato.

This significant occasion comes to light less than two years after the re-birth of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra – whose eight-decade history has accompanied the events of the Country – and is the first international collaboration of Iranian and Western orchestras.

Following three days of rehearsals in Tehran, the first concert will take place on July 6 in the elegant Vahdat Hall, home to the Roudaki Foundation. Following their return to Europe, the Italian musicians will host their Iranian counterparts for the second concert on July 8 at Ravenna’s 4000 seater concert hall – the Palazzo Mauro de André – and the event will be filmed for international broadcast by RAI TV.

In advance of travelling to Iran, Riccardo Muti commented “Better than economy, better than politics, better than verbal languages, music can provide direct communication, tugging at the heartstrings with no need for mediation. And this leads to the concerts of the “Road of Friendship” programme, to the heart of their very reason for being.”

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  • Classical music is the universal language of humanity.

    The New York Philharmonic played Dvorak in Pyongyang.

    So, how did that go?

    Oh, right, Otto Warmbier.

    I’m sure his murderers were humming the Second Movement spiritual melody while they were torturing him.

    Muti can bring his Chicago Symphony to Saudi Arabia next. Don’t expect any women to drive to the concert though. Women are not allowed to have a driver’s license.

      • Why does there need to be an alternative? For some reason, are we to think that a concert led by Muti will melt the regime’s hard line on gay and women’s rights? Or human rights in general? There was a cultural boycott of South Africa, and that was accepted as a good thing by many in the artistic community. I recall the opprobrium heaped on Paul Simon for recording his album Graceland there.

  • I am Iranian, and Maestro Muti has been one of my heroes for years. A conductor of unparalleled charisma and skill. What a joy it is to hear he is going to grace Iran’s halls!

  • It is indeed not the first collaboration of a Western and an Iranian orchestra. The Morgenland Festival Osnabrück has brought musicians of the Osnabrück Symphony Orchestra and the Osnabrück Youth Choir to Tehran in 2008. They played Bach’s St John’s Passion together with members of the Tehran Philharmonic. It was an amazing experience with an audience full of young people being totally excited about classical music!
    The Osnabrück Symphony had visited Tehran one year prior to play a concert there, the Tehran Symphony had been to Osnabrück in 2006 to perform at the festival.
    Lately, the Morgenland Festival has brought Western musicians to Syria (2010), North Iraq (2013) and Lebanon (just last week).

  • Yet so many people judge the musicians who stayed in Germany and played for Nazis. The main difference here is that, unlike German musicians in wartime, Italians are freely choosing to use music to cover the stench of what’s going on in Iran. Here’s a freshman comp essay: compare and contrast Muti in Iran with Furtwangler in Nazi Germany.

    And Tom Jones at the Proms is a disgrace? No, this is a disgrace.

    • What are you talking about? Cover the stench? This concert series takes place in cities touched by war or major natural disasters and is in no way dedicated to the celebration of any kind of regime or political authority. To me this doesn’t look like celebrating Hitler’s birthday.

  • Caro Maestro,
    A word of caution, if I may; do not schedule Mendelssohn, Mahler, Schoenberg or Castelnuovo-Tedesco, not Corelli, Tchaikovsky, Britten, Barber or Menotti, You may offense ayatollahs and their henchmen sense of beauty*.
    A not lesser humanist than you and a great conductor as well, Maestro Toscanini, refused to conduct in Nazi Germany, as they were there quite a a few good men and women in need of solace SYILL alive.
    He crossed twice the Mediterranean to salute the CIVILISATION; you have chose to fly over the same extends and even further to bring a vastly unearned measure of respectability to those tenebrous BARBARIANS.

    P.S. Incidentally, in a fortnight the iranians will fete the Supreme Guide birthday. You may serenade him with Älle Menschen werden Bruder. The Fuhrer also liked it on his birthday.

    *For a more complete list, please consult the archives of the Reichsmusikkammer.

  • It seems unclear to many in here that a population is not the same as its government. And that cultural exchange does more to break down barriers than boycotts. Muti and the musicians are not going there to play for “ayatollahs and their henchmen” (if any, the existence of that “forbidden list” proves that Muti’s was not an easy enterprise). As the NY Phil did not go to North Korea to play for the regime. Unfortunately, in this era of oversimplifications, we have become unable of seeing anything other than as black or white. There are people like me and you living in these places. And I am sure that many and many of them do not like living under those governments more than I do in a place where “my” president said that neo-nazis are as good as their protesters and threatened a genocide, vowing to totally destroy North Korea. The difference is that I can leave if I wish so, while Iranians and North Koreans have less possibilities of doing so. Besides this though, should “humanists” refuse to come to the US because of our government positions?

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