MITKA-Iran concert shocks symphony audience with BTS song

Tehran’s Vahdat Hall last night played host to the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, which performed a colorful range of classical compositions from Iran and the MITKA countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia) under the baton of Iranian maestro Shahrdad Rohani. The performance, organized by the South Korean embassy in Tehran, was as much a diplomatic […]
MITKA-Iran concert shocks symphony audience with BTS song

Tehran’s Vahdat Hall last night played host to the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, which performed a colorful range of classical compositions from Iran and the MITKA countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia) under the baton of Iranian maestro Shahrdad Rohani.

The performance, organized by the South Korean embassy in Tehran, was as much a diplomatic effort as it was a move for enhancing cultural ties between Iran and MITKA – an informal consultation and coordination platform among Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia formed in 2013 on the margins of the 68th UN General Assembly.

Before the concert, ambassadors and chargé d’affaires of MITKA countries present at the event, took to the stage to welcome the audience and highlight their respective countries’ efforts to share their cultures with Iran in a bid to further develop friendly relations.

MITKA ambassadors to Tehran – Photo by Asghar Khamseh

Following that, the South Korean ambassador Ryu Jeong-Hyun expressed his gratitude to Iran’s Rudaki Foundation, as well as the MITKA countries for their cooperation with the South Korean embassy in Tehran in organizing the concert for the second time.

“The five countries of Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia, since the formation of MITKA in 2013, have been successful in realizing the objectives of this valuable coalition, which are based on true and sincere cooperation despite differences in culture and geography,” the ambassador said in a brief speech before the performance. “While we enjoy a few hours of our togetherness thanks to the universal language of music, I wish for the continuation of this significant and exemplar connection among our countries.”

Without further ado, it was time for the much-anticipated concert to steal the hearts and the breaths of the audience of various nationalities present at Vahdat Hall.

The music director and principal conductor of the event, maestro Shahrdad Rohani, voiced happiness over the opportunity of conducting this “important political and artistic event”, and began the performance with two pieces from Turkey: “Rondo Alla Turca”, also known as the Turkish March, which is the last movement of Mozart’s Sonata No. 11 piano in A major, and the second piece was named ‘Esintiler-Finale”, a three movement dance suite composed by Ferit Tuzun (1929-1977) – a fine example of contemporary classical music tradition. The finale part, an allegro vivace, was a fast-paced and joyful composition inspired by local Anatolian folk music.

Iranian maestro Shahrdad Rohani conducting MITKA-Iran concert – Photo by: Asghar Khasmeh

The performance then moved to Indonesian pieces: “Maju Tak Gentar”, composed by Cornel Simanjuntak, which holds a strong “patriotic” and “courageous” meaning for the Indonesian people. The song is said to have motivated the people during colonialism to fight for the freedom of their country. The second piece, called “Satu Nusa Satu Bangsa”, was an Indonesian national song composed by Liberty Manik, with a focus on “unity” and “harmony” as the foundation of the nation.

Australia came forward next, with “In Memoriam” and “Elegy”. “In Memoriam”, which now stands for all victims of violence, was written by Peter Sculthorpe for the victims of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. “Elegy” was composed in 1915 by R. S. Kelly at the Battle of Gallipoli during WWI, in memory of poet Robert Brooke.

But the shock of the event was South Korea’s program. The audience, who were waiting for the next classical composition, were in for a surprise as suspiciously familiar notes of a pop song filled the air instead. The Tehran Symphony Orchestra worked its magic on a newly-recorded song by the insanely popular South Korean boy band BTS, called “Boy with Luv”. The program introduced the song as the “new face of modern Korean music,” adding that it was “all about the wonders of falling in love and finding strength and happiness in every moment and every detail in each other.”

BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member South Korean boy band formed in Seoul in 2013. Since then, the band has taken the world by storm, with their Twitter alone having nearly 22 million followers. It has a large fanbase even in Iran, to the extent that Iranian filmmaker and screenwriter Pouran Derakhshandeh recently said she would make a movie about the band, which has as many as nine million fans in Iran, according to her.

South Korea’s next piece was a centuries-old song called “Arirang”, introduced as a “national symbol not only of Korea’s distant past, but also its turbulent modern history.” The piece was described as the outcome of collective contributions made by ordinary Koreans throughout generations.

Not wanting to be outshined by Korea’s startling program, Mexico made a beautiful comeback to the classical with a piece named “Danzon No. 2”. It is a 20th century orchestral composition by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez. Written for full orchestra, “Danzon” was inspired in the traditional ballrooms of tropical music that were popular in mid-19th century, and went on to gain popularity worldwide.

Shahrdad Rohani added the finishing touch to the performance by conducting “Cry in Vain”; it was composed by the maestro himself in the 1980s, when Iraq declared war on Iran. His piece is dedicated to those who lost their lives while defending Iran against the invasion.

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