Iran and Syria are strategic allies, in fact Syria is often Iran’s closest ally, ever since the Iran–Iraq War, when the Ba’ath-ruled Syria sided with non-Arab Iran against its fellow Ba’ath-ruled neighbour (but enemy) Iraq, leading to Syria being isolated by some Arab countries. Currently both countries are in dire straights of sorts, so how do their relations relate under the strain? Tonight we hear from the USA on two accounts one as two US-based artists give a voice to a photographer on a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, and another from USA as a cultural broker – bringing musicians from Iran and Syria together for a concert:
This month our monthly guests artist Katayoun Vaziri and Brian Zeeger, producers of I Ran into Iran, interview photographer Rita Kablan about her experiences at Zaatari, a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan with a population of more than 200,000 so cramped an overspill camp is currently being built. According to the U.N., the war in Syria is the worst humanitarian crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, with more than 93,000 people already having lost their lives. As nations jockey for position at the January 22nd peace talks in Geneva, as Iran leverages nuclear concessions with the US for a place at the negotiating table, and Syrian rebel leaders transition from soldiers into statesmen, Kablan’s photos from Zaatari keep the human faces of this tragedy in focus. Most of Syria’s refugees don’t live in Jordan’s desert camps, but are instead spread across the region. Most are in Lebanon, followed by Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.
Plus we hear from Theodore Levin: On Syrian and Iranian Music, extracts from a talk given at the Asia Society in New York, December, 2013. Prior to a concert by Sound: The Encounter, Dartmouth College music professor Theodore Levin offers introductory remarks, and then talks with Fairouz Nishanova, director of the Aga Khan Music Initiative about the music of the two countries. The concert involved:
Saeid Shanbehzadeh, neyanban, neyjoti, boogh horns, dance, vocals (Iran)
Basel Rajoub, saxophones, duclar (Syria)
Naghib Shanbehzadeh, tombak/zarb, darbuka (Iran)
And guest artist Kenan Adnawi, oud (Syria)
A collection of newly-developed and arranged musical pieces inspired by the millennium-old musical legacy of the ancient Silk Route, inspired by traditional musical forms and styles and re-imagined within a new frame. Featured music pieces, rooted in a tradition of rhythms and compositional forms, are contemporary in their expression. The result is music that could only have emerged from artists whose own musical journeys have zigzagged back and forth between cultures and influences in a very unique way, creating music that is at once seamless and surprising. Occasional jazz-inflected harmonies, finely etched exchanges of percussion timbres and rhythms, and filigree ornamentation of the wind instruments and vocals provide freshness and intense focus on the color of sound. Presented in association with Asia Society New York.
Watch the concert highlights: http://scty.asia/IHUCx4