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New & enchanting
Alireza Assar's concert

By Syma Sayyah
November 9, 2002
The Iranian

The other night we were invited to an Iranian, I don't know how to describe it, Modern-Classical-Pop concert/performance. The hall was packed. The show was due to start at 6.00 p.m, but it began at 6.20, which by Tehran standards is good. I just wished people would try to be on time or they would not be allowed to take seats until the intermission.

Anyway, almost a third of the audience came after the show started, which meant some people had to be discomforted for the late comers' comfort. The sad thing is they don't even realise this.

But what a show. It was great. For the first time in a long long time it felt good to be out. There was so much positive energy circling round the hall that I am sure everyone truly enjoyed the program.

The orchestra, of some fifty members, some of whom replaced each other during the show, was really professional. Besides the ten women in the chorus, there were six women playing the violin.

After an introductory piece of high beat (fast-paced?) music, the program proper began with a dramatic narration, or declamation, which we Iranians call deklameh. Then came a version of Don't cry for me Argentina which I thought was pretty good.

What made the show more impressive and gave it a nice feel were the images, still photographs and films projected on a screen behind the orchestra. It was nice. I don't mean to be silly nor naive, but everything there seemed so new that I found it enchanting.

The lead singer, Mr. Assar, is apparently very well known, as so many members of audience including an 8-9 year old boy next to me knew all the songs. Many of us Westernized Iranians living in Tehran seem to miss so much by just closing our lives on to all that is happening around us. It can only be our loss.

Mr. Assar was simply great. The music, conducted by Mr.Hejazi, was good, and he himself entertained us several times with his saxophone.

What was most impressive was the rapport that Mr. Assar managed to establish with the audience. For such a well known artist, he was extremely humble and looked it, with his pigtail holding (?) his very dark black hair, while a full grown beard covered his face. I was informed that he is a 'dervish', sufi mystic, as well as an artist.

Anyway, they were all wearing black. All were very professional and very humble too.

Contrary to the concert I attended at the same place the week before [see: The clap is back], this time, the audience was invited to participate not only by clapping their hands but also by singing, as he held the microphone towards the audience, signaling them to sing the chorus lines over and over again. The audience obliged most willingly. It brought their spirit out and added to the positive energy that was there. It was simply fantastic. Not since my student days years ago had I felt so alive at a concert in Tehran.

We were only sorry that the players did not play more than the time permitted, as they were to stage the same show immediately again for another lucky audience. I can only wish that you were all there. I have no doubt that you too would have had a wonderful time. In spite of everything, the spirit lives.

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By Syma Sayyah

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