Cultural Diplomacy: Jazzing it up in Iran
The saxophonist at Vadhat Concert Hall in Tehran, Iran, took center stage in his vivid blue and white flowered shirt. A jazz musician and composer from New York, Bob Belden, along with his band, Animation, were the first Americans to perform in Iran since the 1979 revolution. 1,200 Iranian jazz fans celebrated the moment along with the Americans by shooting cell-phone photos of each other and cheering.
Belden and his bandmates experienced Iran’s famous hospitality as they went from place to place performing during their four-day visit. Before Friday’s concert, he said,
“This guy comes up to me, an Iranian; asks me where I’m from. I say, ‘America!’ He says, ‘I love you!’ I tell him I’m a jazz musician. He says, ‘I love jazz!’”
“Everybody is nice to us here,” he added.
Belden and his group played at the annual Farj music festival that commemorates the anniversary of the Islamic revolution. That programming decision by Iranian cultural officials appeared to be a tentative foray into pursuing better ties with the West.
Read more about this example of cultural diplomacy between Iran and the U.S. in this New York Times article.
You can read more about Iran’s hospitality toward Americans here.
(Top photo: Friends in Iran. Photo credit: Ann Schneider)
PUBLISHED: March 9, 2015