The Iranian Musicians Union has written to the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Abdolali Ali-Asgari, urging him to lift the decades-old ban on showing musical instruments and performances on TV, in an effort to boost public morale during the coronavirus health crisis, the Tehran-based Pupils Association News Agency (PANA) reported on March 19.
The Islamic Republic has banned live or recorded musical performances on state television for 41 years. There have been rare exceptions to this rule, including a solo piano performance by Alireza Assar, marking Nowruz on March 21, 2018.
Female solo artists are also barred from recording or performing in public. Authorities censor any footage showing musical instruments, even during the live opening ceremonies of the Fajr International Musical Festival.
“The coronavirus pandemic has affected our nation and the entire world,” the letter said. “Data from the country’s health and medical institutions and organizations has shown that many people continue to ignore the danger posed by the COVID-19 Coronavirus. These extraordinary circumstances require everyone to play their parts in preventing the spread of the disease.”
“The Iranian Musicians Union is taking this opportunity to, once again, highlight the legitimate rights of all musicians, and also call on the IRIB to lead the efforts to inform, educate and help people during these challenging times,” the signatories noted. “We sincerely believe that the vast resources, talents, and capabilities of the Iranian music community can play a significant role in lifting public morals by performing nostalgic and contemporary music on the state-TV during these trying times.”
“The IRIB can provide a valuable public service by broadcasting musical performances, particularly now that most people are urged to stay home, practice social distancing, and adhere to strict health and hygiene guidelines,” the statement added. “As everyone knows, there are many Iranian performing artists who are loved and respected by the public. We are now at destiny’s crossroads. Music and musicians must play their parts in tackling the current crisis. They can raise the public’s spirit.”
“We hope the president of the IRIB and its senior officials will recruit Iranian artists during these extraordinary times,” the letter concluded. “By using the vast resources of the creative community, the IRIB can truly acknowledge and honor the rich history and tradition of Iranian music, and also wage a concerted fight against the vicious epidemic that is threatening our nation.”
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]