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Photo by Caitlin Penna

Together, the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations and UNC Global, with support from the Iranian Cultural Society of North Carolina, hosted a performance of folk music from Iran on Friday, September 21, 2018 in the FedEx Global Education Center. The performance celebrated the exhibition Reminders of Home: Persian Art Connecting Homeland and Diaspora and featured songs played with instruments commonly used in Iranian folk music, including the santur, ney and tar bass.

Sepideh Saeedi, board member of the Iranian Cultural Society of North Carolina, provided welcoming remarks. She emphasized the importance of diversity within the United States, remarking on how “diversity enriches our country and the experience of living here.” Carl Ernst, William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, followed her remarks by sharing the importance of the visual and musical arts in studying the world. Katie Ziglar, director of the Ackland Art Museum, provided context for the selected reproductions from the museum’s collection on display in the exhibition, explaining their composition and historical significance.

Photo by Caitlin Penna

The musical performance was directed by Bahram Osqueezadeh, musician and scholar from the University of California at Santa Barbara. The ensemble was comprised of Osqueezadeh on the santur, Mitra Khorsandi as the vocalist, Bahram Dehghani on the ney, Siamak Borzogi on the tar bass, and Nadia Sabel on percussion. The performance consisted of different compositions from Iran and beyond, featuring songs from regions with elements of Persian culture. Many of the songs were recognized by Persian community members in the audience, who joined in singing and clapping along to the music.

Mina Vakil-Zadeh, one of the community contributors to Reminders of Home, concluded the performance by sharing how she has observed the growth of the Iranian community since her arrival to Chapel Hill 50 years ago. She highlighted the importance of continued exposure of culture to the community.

After the performance, the audience had the opportunity to view the exhibit on display throughout the FedEx Global Education Center. Shiva Bakhtiyari ’20, secretary of the UNC Persian Cultural Society, a student organization devoted to promoting awareness and knowledge of Iran, and attendee of the event, said “It’s very exciting because more people can learn about [Persian culture] and can be informed about the richness of the culture.”

Reminders of Home: Persian Art Connecting Homeland and Diaspora explores Persian culture through everyday objects. It will be on display in the FedEx Global Education Center through December 8, 2018.

The opening reception was hosted by UNC Global and organized by the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations and Global Relations, in collaboration with the Iranian Cultural Society of North Carolina. Additional support was provided by the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Global InitiativesDepartment of ArtDepartment of Asian StudiesPersian Studies programDepartment of ClassicsDepartment of Music; and the Duke Islamic Studies Center.

By Chloe Arrojado ’20


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