Iran: Tehran Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Orff and Rachmaninov

Hola a todos. At least with thinking people and one who is not prejudiced by someone’s nationality or ethnicity, I think this performance of the Rachmaninov Second (Piano Concerto No. 2 in c minor) by the excellent Tehran Symphony Orchestra and its excellent Iranian guest piano soloist — whose name is not listed, although one or two commenters said his name is Amir Mahyar Moradi, but I can’t confirm that — should put to rest the myth that “only Russians can play Rachmaninov.” I’m always annoyed when I read that very outdated rubbish in YT comments. Although I don’t remember ever reading “only Germans can play Bach.” I have read, “leave French music to the French” which is just as ludicrous as the Russian myth. But unfortunately there are some fossils living among us who still hold to that “Dark Ages” nationalistic thinking. I think it’s the same crowd that engage in conductor worshipping and name-dropping of big-name conductors, when in reality the conductor in a performance doesn’t play a note unless he’s (usually it’s a guy) conducting from a keyboard. (Related: Dudamel does it best! No, Bernstein! No, Solti! No, Karajan!)

Some years ago I gave a solo piano recital where I played works of Scarlatti, Poulenc, Herbert Howells, Rachmaninov and one or two other composers. Some people came to me afterwards and asked, “How did you do that? How did you play pieces from composers of different nationalities all on one programme?” I must have had a “What are you talking about?” confused look on my face in response. I didn’t know how to respond to their questions because I had given no thought to it at all! I just wanted a varied programme, but mostly focusing on Rachmaninov and the two sets of his Études-Tableaux. They’re beautiful pieces. I also didn’t want to play what “everybody else plays,” which was some piece by Chopin had to be on any programme. But these people who came to hear me were obviously of a mentality that “only [fill in nationality of pianist] can play music of [his country's name]. Astounding really that such a mentality still exists to this day.

The fact is: Music is the international language and crosses all people-made geographic borders. One does not need to “leave Russian or French music to the Russians or French” when other nationalities can play it just as well if not better. Where one was born or lives has little to do with how well one performs a piece of music. Instead, it has to do with many other factors, such as talent — which cannot be taught — being one of them. Cultural differences do play a part, and the example I often use of that is how Rachmaninov was heavily influenced by Russian Orthodox Church bells, so much so that he wrote a symphonic choral work he titled: “Колокола, Kolokola” (English translation: The Bells).

The Russian School of Piano Playing does have this (undeserved?) reputation for producing “banging” pianists. Well that is a generalisation, because I’ve heard many Russian pianists. Some “bang” at times where others don’t, and it can also depend upon what they’re playing. And “banging” is not limited to Russian pianists. The best performance, in my opinion, of the Rachmaninov Third is not by a Russian pianist but by a Braziliana: Cristina Ortiz who was born in Brazil but has lived most of her life en Londres/in London and who won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 1969 plays a very musical, unique — she plays parts of both cadenzas — and non-banging Rachmaninov Third which you can hear here. Recently, I heard a well-known Russian pianist “bang” his way through the third movement of the Rachmaninov Third. I thought he was going to break some strings. He was even lifting his hands so high above where the music rack would be if he were using his score slapping the keys. Needless theatrics.

By the way, Iran is pronounced “E-rahn,” and not “I ran” the way many culturally-ignorant people in the US pronounce it. I think they learned it wrong from the US corporate media who thoroughly enjoy mispronouncing words of international languages. They seem quite proud and find it funny when they mangle any world language that is not their precious US-English and the only language they speak or often slur through in some cases. The same goes for most US politicians, and other people before network cameras. I remember when Whoopi Goldberg seemed to find it funny when she mangled the pronunciation of Univisión, the major español language network. The woman couldn’t pronounce it. It was obvious she hadn’t prepared and found humour in that. The typical embarrassing USian. They find humour in their willful-ignorance. One of the major complaints that I’ve read repeatedly from los Latinos/Hispanos about the English language corporate media in Los Ángeles, for example, is how those networks enjoy and seem to take great pride in mangling español language words, which deeply disrespects their large Latino, Hispano, mexicano, Chicano (et al) audience.

Iran’s capital city, Tehran, is a beautiful, very modern city with a population of about 9 million people in the City of Tehran and 16 million people in the greater Tehran Metropolitan Area. Related: Tehran, the biggest city in the Middle East with a metro population of around 16 Million, also one of the biggest cities in the world.

Los Ángeles came to my mind while watching the tour of the Tehran video below. Tehran has a very nice and modern Metro (subway system), nicer than some Metros here in the US (it’s nicer than San Francisco’s, although we have received some new and very nice Metro cars lately to replace the ageing cars). Modern Life: 65 New Passenger cars added to Tehran subway system. And Mayor of Belgrade visit Tehran’s modern Metro system. Also: Modern Life (Home Page). Lovely, friendly people live there. I don’t see any homeless people in Tehran so apparently they take care of their people, unlike the US which chooses to treat homeless people like basura while the US pretends to be “A Christian Nation” — yet another myth — because its domestic and international policies as the world bully, world police force and world military are the exact opposite of what we know about the life and teachings of Jesus from learned historians.

I enjoyed these excerpts of the performances from the Tehran Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In 2015, they performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (“Choral”), just to give one example of their repertoire for Orchestra and Chorus.

The TSO was founded in 1933 and many notable musicians, such as Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern played with the Orchestra in their day.

In the first video below, pianist Amir Mahyar Moradi (presumably) is playing the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 in c minor with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in this excerpt of his performance below.

The TSO use the Bösendorfer piano, considered by many to be the finest pianos en el mundo/in the world and even better than the Steinway & Sons pianos (New York or Hamburg). Their Bösendorfer has a beautiful sound. They’re very expensive pianos — handcrafted in Austria — they sell for between US$256,000 and $560,000. For this performance the TSO uses the European seating arrangement with the violins seated on both sides of the orchestra and cellos seated inside the Orchestra.

I read an article from a tourist from los Estados Unidos/the US now living in Tehran who has spent 3 years there. He loves Tehran and spoke about the anti-Tehran lies, disinformation and propaganda constantly fed to the US and world public about Tehran. He said that Tehran is a very safe city without exceptions and the people are very friendly. There’s also very few Western tourists there. He said there’s probably approximately five in the entire country.

Also assisting for their performance (below) of the final chorus from Carl Orff’s symphonic choral cantata, Carmina Burana, was the Tehran Symphony Chorus. They’re quite good. The Orff is in Latin, so the Chorus Director (unfortunately I don’t know his or her name to acknowledge him or her) must have brought in a language coach — as credible Orchestra Chorus Directors usually do — for the training of the text/diction. Their diction was clear. The languages of Iran are (and note that Latin is not one of them):

Persian: 53% of the population
Azerbaijani and other Turkic dialects: 18%
Kurdish: 10%
Gilaki and Mazandarani: 7%
Luri: 6%
Arabic: 2%
Balochi: 2%
Other languages: comprise 1%, and they include Tati, Talysh, Georgian, Armenian, Circassian, Assyrian, Hebrew, and others.

Yet many people born in the US struggle to speak just one language (US-English) correctly. Pathetic really, while they hallucinate about their supposed “greatest country” myth and other US-nationalistic ugliness promoted by corporate parasitic politicians from both partisan cults, dutifully supported in lockstep by their partisan-brainwashed disciples.

I used the title for this article because I wanted to credit the Tehran Symphony Chorus, even though they don’t perform in the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 in c minor, of course. And since someone usually asks, yes, I played the Rachmaninov Second — which I learned on my own during Summer breaks from the Conservatory — although unfortunately I never played it with an Orchestra. I would love to have done that. Well isn’t that one of the main reasons why we musicians learn concerti so that we can perform with an Orchestra? I think so. I played it with one of my piano professors at the Conservatory (two pianos, he played the secondo). But that’s not the same experience as with an Orchestra. For those who don’t know, concerto opportunities are indeed rare unless one is a concertising artist with artist management (which I’m not). Generally speaking, concerto opportunities — for those without artist management — diminish the older one gets, with the cut-off point being around age 30, I think. Orchestras often like to feature young “Rising Star” artists to “wow the audience” or (what I call) the latest “fad artist.” Concertising sounds glamorous to some, but after some time doing it, many concert artist find it very unappealing, and even come to dread having to get on a plane and jet off to some location to perform dealing with time zone differences and jet lag, lack of sleep and not in one’s own bed at home. They mainly do it for the dinero/money, I think at that point. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Related:

Asked to ban female musicians, Tehran Symphony Orchestra cancels performance:
“The authorities had pointed out that the female performers were not wearing appropriate hijab (head covering)…The women musicians were going to perform the country’s national anthem. Why shouldn’t they? I have said many times that I was born in this country and I know very well where the red lines are. As long as I’m the director of this orchestra, I will not allow this kind of treatment,” he [the orchestra's artistic director Ali Rahbari] added.

Iran defends the execution of LGBT queer people.
The same goes for the strong US ally sacrosanct Saudi Arabia. For your search engine: 27 April 2019: “Five men beheaded by Saudi Arabia were gay according to ‘confessions extracted under torture’.
Lovely company the US keeps. Also, speaking of Saudi Arabia:

20 June 2019: So unlike them and surprisingly, the ultra-conservative US Senate passed 22 measures aimed at blocking White House plans for $8.1 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, setting up a veto showdown with the current White House resident.
Now let’s be honest: Wouldn’t he just prefer to dissolve Congress — the House and Senate — and get on with his true intentions and agenda? I should think so.

Gay & Lesbian Travellers to Iran
“Barbaric laws aside, there is no reason why gay and lesbian travellers shouldn’t visit Iran. There are no questions of sexuality on visa application forms. Do, however, refrain from overt acts of affection.”

Here’s the Tehran Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the final movement of the Orff:

In this video, notice the modern traffic signals that let motorists know how many seconds remain before the light changes, for both red and green lights. We don’t have that in San Francisco and I’ve not seen that anywhere in the US, the so-called “greatest country.” (LOL, oh how we do so love to pump ourselves up to try to make ourselves feel superior to other genuinely great countries around the world).

I enjoyed this video recorded on their Metro (their Metro is well used which is good to see), although I would have preferred different music more authentic to the region:

A nice segment about the Metro and about the Persian food in this video. Someone was having jugo de zanahoria/carrot juice, like I make most days. Now that’s real food as opposed to coffee — nothing nutritious about that — that the typical USian would likely be ordering. Those stuffed bell peppers look good to me. Are they vegetarian?

Assuming Amir Mahyar Moradi is the pianist in the first video above, he has performed the Rachmaninov Second with the TSO more than once as you can see in these videos:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Has Iran ever attacked another country unprovoked?
“Iran has not invaded any countries in the past 200 years since the establishment of Qajar dynasty. This is despite the fact that Iran is more than a match for most of its neighbors….Iran believes in soft power and will try to influence countries in the region through other than military means. Iran’s defense doctrine states that this type of influence is more effective in protecting Iran against hostile neighbors or external powers stationed within them.” The same cannot be said about the US, can it? The US is the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons on a civilian population. With their massive stockpile of nuclear weapons, they have the hypocrisy to dictate to other sovereign nations what arsenals they can and cannot have. The Empire makes a hobby out of invading and bullying sovereign nations.

el 7 de julio de 2019: And how hypocritical to hear the insane, demented and bloviating current White House resident lecture Iran that they will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, considering the huge stockpile of nuclear weapons that the US has, and the US is the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons on a civilian population. When might we expect the US to get rid of their stockpile before they go lecturing other nations? I oppose all nuclear weapons. I’m merely pointing out the blatant hypocrisy, which is so typical of the US with their arrogant, “Do as we say, not as we do; it’s all right for us but not for you” septic mentality. But this guy campaigned as a “non-interventionist” and “not part of the swamp” when he’s been the opposite. I asked some of Mr Non-Interventionist Intervenionist’s rabid disciples how they justify their messiah rubbing shoulders with, shaking hands and getting cozy with non-white world leaders around the world since many if not most of his rabid disciples are white supremacists/anti-ethnic, sexist and of a Male Patriarchy mentality and very proud of all of that. I explained that I had read probably thousands of comments online from his supporters and so I asked how they justify Mr White Supremacist hanging out with people of various ethnic backgrounds? Can you predict their response? No one would answer the question but as expected attacked me for asking it, saying that my comment was based on “fake news.” No, it has nothing to do with “fake news.” The comments I was talking about were written by his supporters on message forums. I got nothing from the news or “fake news.” So, I realised very quickly that the bottom line with these insipid people is that whatever he does is perfectly fine with them as long as he continues to tell them what they want and expect to hear from him: Hate and banks of lies. They still support him. They consider him meeting with Asian and Middle Eastern leaders as part of the job. It’s just that they refuse to talk about the things they don’t like that he does. Well that’s the same thing that the Obamabots did with their messiah Obama. These two cults share the same tactics and mentality. They’re just differently named cults based in blind brainwashed partisan faith and allegiance. As I wrote during his first campaign, the two mentalities are the same. I just wanted to update about that. Now, no more politics due to my blood pressure readings.

6 comments on “Iran: Tehran Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Orff and Rachmaninov

  1. Conservatory Student

    Really appreciate your vast musical knowledge. Makes it so interesting to come here. Never know what you’ll be talking about. Was shocked when I saw Tehran SO and Chorus of all things !! Really fine pianist in the Rachmaninov. Have a good day.

  2. District Resident

    Greetings from the District. Good to see this article. Thinking aloud – it would be good to see the Tehran Symphony Orchestra play over here at the Kennedy Center and tour with that Iranian pianist. That would show them! Also invite you-know-who to the concert although i doubt he would come since Iran is the enemy of the day, or one of them.

    1. Wes in Arlington

      Hey to you over there in the District. I’m your neighbor across the Potomac in Arlington, and “hola” to pink barrio. I don’t get to the Kennedy Center that often but I’d go see the Tehran Symphony Orchestra if they came to play there. I have a hunch though that they’d never get pass security at Dulles and would be put on the next plane back to Tehran. A friend of mine was telling me about musicians having trouble getting into countries to perform because of political issues. Too bad some politicians aren’t adults…..I’m thinking of DT when I say that.

      1. District Resident

        Hey there. Agree with your comment btw. I rarely get over to Arlington. Mostly stay here in the District, although I did take the metro out to VA last week to have dinner with a friend. Thnx for saying hey.

  3. D8

    I appreciate this. I think most people in the U.S. are clueless that Tehran is a major cosmopolitan city. I mean look at it from these videos. It looks like any U.S. city but better!! I think most people think Iran is some hole in the dirt. That Iranian pianist is really good & also the orchestra. Maybe you’ll open some closed minds with this article. I also find it timely that you posted this now considering what’s in the news about Iran lately and the lies coming from the empire and its allies.

Fin. The End.