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Library of Congress Hosts Iranian Cultural Event

Washington DC - "It is so great that in this time of increased tension between Iran and the United States we can come together and enjoy such beautiful music," opened Rory Turner at an event featuring Iranian music and literature at the Library of Congress today. Turner, a co-director of Maryland Traditions whose aim it is to preserve homegrown folklore art and music added that he was so grateful to have "this music to enrich our culture."

The event is part of a series entitled “Homegrown 2007” which aims to highlight “homegrown” music from all fifty states.” The state of Maryland chose as its homegrown showcase the Sama Ensemble, a classical Persian music group under the co-direction of Dr. Ali Reza Analouei and Dr. Naser Khorasani, performed for over half an hour at the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library.

Sounds from the daf and tonbak, traditional Persian instruments, filled the auditorium, as the voice of Bahman Ameen and the dance prowess of Audrey Elizabeth were featured during the music portion of the afternoon.

Noting the large and vibrant Iranian American community in Maryland, the organizers of the event noted that it was fitting that Maryland picked a Persian music group to represent them at the Library of Congress.

Also featured at the conference were four distinguished Iranian authors. Moniro Ravanipour, one of the first female authors in the country, spoke of trying to bridge the want and need for modernity with the longing to stay connected with the past. Her childhood in the southern part of the country, a place where tradition and superstition are intertwined with every day life, were her biggest influences growing up. She was also quick to note that although she was one of only a handful of female authors in Iran there are now over two hundred.

When asked about censorship in Iran, author and publisher Babak Takhti, noted that Iran still has a long ways to go in the arena of freedom of speech. He explained, however, that of the one hundred books his publishing company sent to print, only one was not accepted by the Islamic Republic. However, he emphasized that self-censorship is a way of life for any author that wants to get his work read within Iran.

The lone playwright, Ezzat Goushegir identified as a premier challenge, the constant battle to reconcile attachments to ones new home in the United States with a longing for the homeland, Iran. “Immigrants have so many dreams for the future, but they have a past they cannot forget,” she said.

The afternoon ended with a brief question and answer period. The entire event was videotaped to both be viewed on the Library’s website and to go in the official archives of the Library of Congress to be “enjoyed by tomorrow’s generations.”


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