Where borders divide, music unites: Poland celebrates national day in Iran with music

“Perhaps one of the greatest means to achieve global peace and harmony is cultural exchange. It opens up the vistas of human understanding and further expands our universal consciousness. Let us raise ourselves from the narrow perspective of being a citizen of a particular country to global citizenship that is the greatest demand of modern […]
Where borders divide, music unites: Poland celebrates national day in Iran with music

“Perhaps one of the greatest means to achieve global peace and harmony is cultural exchange. It opens up the vistas of human understanding and further expands our universal consciousness. Let us raise ourselves from the narrow perspective of being a citizen of a particular country to global citizenship that is the greatest demand of modern world.” These are the words of Indian author-poet Preeth Nambiar in his poetry collection, ‘The Voyage To Eternity’, in praise of cultural relations as means to bridge the gap among all nations.

The sentiment behind these words seems to have resonated well with the Polish embassy in Tehran, which decided to do something different this year for the celebration of Poland’s national day. Instead of the diplomatic norm to celebrate a country’s national day by holding a formal, exclusive reception at the embassy for a specific guest list, the Polish embassy decided to reach out to a wider audience, that would include Iranian public, and bring them together at a cultural venue instead of a diplomatic site, and surround them by notes of music and harmony instead of diplomatic chatter. And indeed, what strikes me the most about such a decision is how the inherent patriotic nature of a country’s independence day is set aside for a more inclusive approach, a warm embrace of another country’s culture, a celebration, not of one country’s exclusive existence with its distinctive features and borderlines, but of all the common values and sentiments that bring nations together, that gifts them a chance to experience a strong sense of oneness in a holistic way that only music can manage.

For this reason, the Centenary of Poland Regaining Independence was celebrated with a concert of classical music on Saturday night in Vahdat Hall – one of Iran’s most distinguished cultural institutions in downtown Tehran.

The event was attended by representatives of Iranian cultural institutions, ambassadors, attaches and other figures from diplomatic community, Polish expatriates living in Iran, and of course some Iranian music lovers, all gathered together to listen to Polish and Iranian music performed by young Iranian and Polish musicians in what the chargé d’affaires at Polish embassy in Tehran, Mr. Wojciech Unolt, described in his opening speech as the “best way to express the community of our values and sentiments.”

Mr. Unolt opened the event by discussing the significance of Poland’s national day (November 11) as the day the country regained its independence in 1918 after having resisted foreign dominion for more than a century.

Although “Poland was erased from the political map of Europe,” the chargé d’affaires made a good point of reminding the gathering that the country always “remained part of its human and cultural landscape. He maintained that while Fryderyk Chopin did not see free Poland in his lifetime, but with his music, he built a monument of Polish, and universal, culture. 

The concert was performed by Nilper Orchestra, founded in 2004 for performing contemporary classical music. The first part consisted of a four-movement piece by Ahmad Pejman (1937), an Iranian classical composer notable for his operatic and symphonic works, followed by ‘Three Pieces in Old Style’ (۱۹۶۳) composed by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, a Polish composer of contemporary classical music, and ‘Orawa’ (۱۹۸۶) by Wojciech Kilar (1932-2013), a Polish composer of music for more than 130 motion pictures. This part was conducted by Nilper’s principal conductor, Navid Gohari (1984), who is also the founder of the Contemporary Music Circle of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

Part II was the highlight of the performance: Fryderyk Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in e minor Op. 11, under the baton of guest conductor Martyna Kosecka and accompanied by one of the most outstanding Polish pianists of his generation, Tomasz Zając (1994). Ms. Kosecka, who is praised for her neo-expressionist compositional soundscapes in music, was phenomenal on the stage, and the ensemble of Iranian musicians followed the demonstrations of her metrical rhythm with perfect ease and precision.

The night was concluded by a soulful solo piano performed under the expert fingers of Tomasz Zając, and the ensemble were escorted off the stage with long standing ovation.

Photos by: Alireza Ramezani

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