Pasargadae the Hard Way

OK, OK, orchestras are in trouble, we can’t play too much new music, too radical, we’ll scare away the audience, blah blah blah. And at the same time, the Tehran Symphony Orchestra is playing Frank Zappa.

Yes, that Tehran Symphony. A couple weeks ago, the orchestra traveled to Osnabrück, Germany, where music director Nader Mashayekhi led a program including Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Beethoven’s 7th, Mashayekhi’s own “Fih-e Maa Fih”, Riahi’s “Persian Suite”… and Zappa’s “Dog Breath Variations.” (Keep in mind that Western music is at least nominally banned from Iranian media.) Upon their return, Iran’s Culture Minister, Mohammad-Hossein Saffar-Harandi, congratulated the orchestra by saying that “[t]oday’s society needs genuine music and the Islamic community disapproves of Western-style music that encourages debauchery.” (Well, thank you for those kind words.)

So, all you orchestra directors out there—the next time you’re worrying over how your subscribers will react to your programming, just ask yourself: are your subscribers liable to start enriching uranium?

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