0816 GMT January 25, 2020
The 30th Fajr International Music Festival has been welcomed by foreign troupes this year. Out of 30 countries submitting works to the festival, 10 will participate in the event.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, the Head of Iran Music Association Ali Torabi, who is also the festival’s executive secretary, discussed the aspects of the upcoming event which is scheduled for February 13-20. Excerpts follow:
IRAN DAILY: Does the policies of the current government affect the festival? How do you asses its influence on the arts and culture sector?
TORABI: After 30 years since the festival was instituted, it has been stabilized. Like most prestigious international events, the festival is not affected by political issues. Of course, one cannot ignore the positive impacts of President Hassan Rouhani's government in the arts and culture sector, particularly in music.
There is a much more appropriate atmosphere for music activities under the current government. Obviously, the process of issuing permits for music groups has been facilitated. There have been grounds for issuing permits for groups earlier known as 'underground bands'. An increased sympathy is felt in the Culture Ministry to extend support to the music sector.
To what extent have the government's efforts to promote international relations affected the festival?
Of course, cultural diplomacy plays an effective role on strengthening ties with other countries. We have seen an increase in the number of foreign groups intending to take part in the festival. This year, 30 foreign groups submitted works for the festival, however due to limitations we could not have all of them. On the whole, there is greater enthusiasm for the international section than in the previous year. Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, Austria, Iraq, Tunisia, Switzerland, Italy and Armenia are to take part in the event. This is while last year there were four countries in this section.
It seems that the folklore and regional music are in the limelight this year, isn't it?
With Ali Moradkhani's appointment as deputy culture minister for artistic affairs, folklore music came to the fore. There are also plans to hold an independent festival of folklore music as the country's cultural heritage.
Seven groups will be participating in the upcoming festival. They are from the Zagros regions to groups from the northern Gilan, western Kurdestan and Azarbaijan as well as the southern provinces.The 30th festival will concurrently be held in Alborz, Khuzestan, Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad, Fars, Golestan, Lorestan as well as in the capital.
Please brief us on the special section for women.
This section, titled 'Jasmine Festival', has been included in the festival since eight years ago. It is held in Niavaran Cultural Complex and includes genres such as pop, folklore, traditional and classical music. This year's section will feature seven groups.
What about the young talents and new generation sections?
These sections have been set up since four years ago, and they seek to identify and introduce brilliant young instrumentalists and musicians. The young talents section focuses on world classical music, while the new generation is centered on traditional Persian music. The sections provide opportunities for the youth who are no-name in music to demonstrate their capabilities.
In your opinion, why has Persian music not attained its due status in the world?
This has plenty of complicated reasons which require further deep analysis. But, generally I can say that unlike the leading countries, we have not invested in promoting and developing music. Nor did we create grounds for introducing musicians. There are still limitations on showing musical instruments at national TV. This is while, in order to introduce our music internationally, the first step is to present it to our people who, influenced by foreign genres, feel detached from genuine traditional Persian music today. The technical structure of Persian music also needs to be studied to find out whether it impresses the foreign audience or not.
What considerations should be taken to promote the status of Fajr music festival globally?
The festival's problems are not different from the entire music issue in the country. The lack of suitable halls for performing concerts throughout the year is one of such obstacles to developing national music. Moreover, copyright is not fully observed in Iran and this prevents us from conducting exchanges with authentic international companies. Authorities should also pay due attention to this sector since the current budget for music is lower than those for other branches of art. This is while music plays key role in monetary circulation worldwide and also in Iran. This is evident from the share of music in the spending of families. Music concerts also receive an enthusiastic reception, as music has an independent relationship with the audience all over the world.