The sounds of Persian classical music may conjure glittering minarets and desert landscapes, but some of the genre’s leading musicians now live amid views of snow-capped mountains and northern lights. The Walrus (Jan.-Feb. 2009) reports that Vancouver, Canada, has become a hub for the music as thousands of Iranians have resettled there in the past decade.
Among them is Mohammad Reza Shajarian, whom many consider to be the best Persian classical singer in the world. Another musician, Hossein Behroozinia, has established the Nava Art Centre, an academy that promotes traditional Persian music and poetry, which go hand in hand as lyrics are often drawn from ancient poems.
“Classical music and the sung poetry of Rumi, Hafez, and Saadi offer a sense of identity far from the images of an increasingly unpopular regime,” writes the Walrus. A student at Nava Art Centre says, “When I play this music, it reminds me that we were once an empire.”