German orchestra in Iran on landmark visit

The Osnabrueck Symphony Orchestra from northwestern Germany will play works by Beethoven, Brahms and Elgar in Tehran this week following a successful visit by the Teheran Symphony Orchestra to their town last year.

German orchestra in Iran on landmark visit
A German orchestra arrived in Tehran on Monday, defying increasing political tensions to give the first performances in Iran by a full Western classical ensemble since the Islamic revolution in 1979.


The Osnabrueck Symphony Orchestra from northwestern Germany will play works by Beethoven, Brahms and Elgar in Teheran this week following a successful visit by the Teheran Symphony Orchestra to their town last year.

The German orchestra, whose female players will have to wear Islamic headscarves to obey Iran's dress code, will be boosted by six Iranian musicians for the concerts.

The orchestra's directors were at pains to emphasise their visit would not stray into politics and was purely aimed at increasing cultural understanding between Iran and the West.

'My wish is to show the peoples of both our countries that there is no need to fear one another and it is a great pleasure to get to know one another,' said the director of Osnabrueck's summer festival, Michael Dreyer.

'I hope that it will be increasingly normal to have cultural exchanges between Iran and Germany and the Western world,' he told reporters after arriving in Tehran.

Dreyer said he had rejected a request by three German MPs to join the tour in order to keep the trip focused on music and not politics. The trip has been fully coordinated with Iran's ministry of culture and Islamic guidance.


Tehran's symphony orchestra gives regular concerts, mixing Western classics with compositions by Iranian composers. Western chamber ensembles have visited occasionally, especially during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami.

Judging by the questions posed by Iranian journalists at the press conference, there is set to be some debate over the exclusively Western choice of the repertoire and soloists in the Osnabrueck orchestra's concerts.

Just hours after arriving, the orchestra's leadership found themselves quizzed why an Iranian symphony had not been included in the programme and why plans to include famed Iranian singer Sharham Nazeri had fallen flat.

Dreyer defended the choice, saying there was not enough time to rehearse an Iranian symphony and logistics made inviting the US-based Nazeri impossible.

The German orchestra brushed off the constraint of giving the concerts with their female players wearing Islamic headscarves, saying they had worn the garments during rehearsals in Germany in preparation.

'The women are not used to playing in hijab. I am very glad that the women tried it and it was fine. What is most important is the music,' said conductor Hermann Baeumer.

The orchestra's concerts are expected to draw large crowds on Wednesday and Thursday before the musicians leave Iran on Saturday.

However Baeumer said: 'We have a saying in German -- music is the only language of the world that everyone can speak.'

AFP
Last Mod: 28 Ağustos 2007, 11:04
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