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Don't pass up the chance to attend a performance of classic Persian music during a trip to Iran. For me, it was an emotional experience tonight.

One of the extraordinary opportunities during a trip to Iran is the chance to hear live classic Persian music. It can be music tourism at it’s best.

Traditional Persian music, performed with instruments that have been used for centuries, is a huge source of entertainment in Iran.

You can hear the traditional Iranian music in some restaurants and inns on special occasions.

You can also ask your tour guide to arrange a private concert at an ecolodge you stay at. Your host most likely has quick access to the local musicians performing the traditional music of that region.

My extraordinary Musical experience tonight

They ask me why do you stay in Iran.

This is one reason: the chance to do extraordinary things. Tonight I witnessed a renowned musician’s jamming session in Mashhad, northeast Iran. I saw passion, talent and humility.

I’ve got emotional hearing the music and the songs, even though didn’t know any of the words. I typically listen to Mozart and rock and roll from the 60’s and 70’s.

And at the end of the session, around midnight, he fed me too!

The musician 

Ali Pourataei, professionally known as Bidel, plays the centuries-old folklore music of Khorasan province on his setar all over the world.

He just got back from performing at the Rumi Festival in Konya, Turkey – home to the famous Whirling Dervishes.

Which is fitting because the man is humble as a dervish. He receives fans at the studio in this rental home. We’d been the third visiting party that day dropping by.

“I didn’t go after the money. It came by itself,” he said. 

Bidel inherited the art of folklore music from his late father, also a renowned performer. 

He plays all types of music with musical instruments he has brought from all over the world. 

Instruments of Persian / Iranian classical music

Some of the other instruments are specific to the Khorasan province.

“A piano or guitar is the same in America and in Europe and in Africa,” explained my friend Ehsan, who brought us to Pourataei’s home studio. “But the instant you play these instruments, the trained ear knows it’s the sound of Khorasan. Even the wood the instrument is made with, could sound different because it’s from local trees. 

Musical performance was banned in Iran

What’s happening here is night and day compared with just a couple of decades ago. Performance of or even listening to music used to be banned in post-Revolutionary Iran, until the laws were relaxed in the 1990’s. 

“Just carrying a musical instrument had the same punishment as carrying an unlicensed gun,” Bidel said. 

Buy Bidel’s music: https://music.apple.com/ro/artist/ali-pourataei/1627335709

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