A Report on the Third Regional and Ritual Music Festival of Iran Ayeneda and the music and musicians of Zagros mountains and Persian gulf.
The third festival of regional and ritual music of Iran Ayenedar was held as, according to Mohammad-Reza Darvishi, more than seventy percent of the artists who had participated in the first and second festival had passed away. Thus, more than being an arts event, holding of this festival is a danger alarm for Iran’s culture and art. With the passing on of such masters, a considerable share of ancient forms of Persian music is in danger of obliteration.
Holding of this round of the festival, with a focus on music from the Zagros region, was for many of the music lovers of the capital cause for amazement, as they were hearing something from the regional music in Iran which had rarely been attended to before. On the sidelines of this important event, there were several points to consider, which I shall briefly address.
This festival is almost entirely held by the efforts of the private sector. In fact, the founder and the head of this festival is Ehsan Rasoulof, who has made a name as a proliferative music producer in recent years, having supported bands like Damahi, Pallett, Bomrani, Raam and Kamakan. Rasoulof, whose name is associated with certain controversies, in a noteworthy move in 2013, founded the festival Ayenedar with Mohammad-Reza Darvishi, notable researcher of Iranian regional music, as its artistic director. In that first edition of the festival several masters of music from the eastern regions of Iran, like Noor Mohamamd Dorpour, Zolfaqar Asgarian and La’l Bakhsh Peyk, took to the stage. Several of these then-elderly masters have unfortunately passed on since and the festival of regional music Ayenedar acted as a platform for their final official public performance. Tending to such artists is usually the responsibility of arts organisations and cultural managers. Therefore, and also due to the unprofitability of such performances, entering of a producer from the private sector to this scene is an event worthy of consideration.
Each year Ayenedar music festival focuses on a specific region of Iran. This is a different approach to that of the state-held annual festival of regional music which has rarely been held regularly and consistently and, for instance, had a three-year gap between its eighth and ninth festivals. The first festival was held in September 2013, in which 30 artists participated from the eastern and southern regions of Iran, Torbat-e Jam, Bakharz and Sistan and Baluchestan. The venue for this festival was the Iranian Artists’ Forum. The second festival was held in June 2015 with a focus on the music from southern regions of Iran; 120 artists from Hormozgan, Bushehr and Khuzestan participated in the festival which was held in Rudaki hall. And the third festival was held this year from 14th to 16th of July, with a focus on the ethnic music from the Lur, Lak and Bakhtiari nomads of Charmahal, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Mamasani, Qashqai and Ilam, again in Roudaki hall. Up until the second festival, Mohammad-Rreza Darvishi was the artistic director of the festival and Ali Maghazei acted as the executive director. In the third festival, Darvishi resigned from his previous post, Maryam Gharasoo became the research director of the festival and Ali Maghazei the artistic director. Darvishi, however, continued to collaborate as a consultant. A number of performers were identified and invited to the festival through Ali Maghazei’s numerous travels all around the country. Produced by Ehsan Rasoulof, Ali Maghazei has been making documentaries on artists of regional music all over Iran for the past ten years; the seed of this festival, in fact, was planted based on his travels. Seemingly, the division of various regions for different festivals are also based on the researches and personal experiences of Darvishi and Maghazei, and the studies of the research director of the festival.