Pop goes Iran – first-ever HIV/AIDS concert in Tehran attracts thousands
TEHRAN, Iran, 12 November 2008 – Thousands of fans queuing up to see their favourite pop idols, an audience shouting loudly and occasionally dancing in their seats, electric guitars whipping up the atmosphere under brightly colour light spots – this is the unusual backdrop for a series of concerts such as the Islamic Republic of Iran has never seen before.
More than 3,000 Iranians from all age groups are patiently waiting every evening to see a line-up of some of the biggest names in Iran’s pop industry, some of whom have not performed publicly for more than four years. The concert series, which began on 6 November and ends today, are running under the theme of “Unite Against AIDS,” as part of this year’s World Aids Day events organised by UNICEF and UNAIDS.
Top performers, such as the singer and pianist Alireza Assar, rock musician Reza Yazdani, pop singer Mani Rahnama and actor and musician Mehran Modiri, teamed up with the UN agencies to help raise awareness on HIV/AIDS among Iran’s youth, and to raise funds for UNICEF Iran’s HIV/AIDS programme.
“It is such a pleasure and honour for me and my band to come onto the stage again after four years, and especially for such a good, humanitarian cause,” said Alireza Assar on stage. “I decided to perform at the concerts especially when I heard that they are being held in support of the United Nations, with the benefits going to UNICEF and to children.”
To mark the special occasion, Mani Rahnama offered his last song, “Children’s Dinner”, to UNICEF. Mehran Modiri and his band, Darkoob, played one of their best-known traditional songs, and received special cheers by the audience for it. Finally, Reza Yazdani surprised everyone with the entirely new song, “Persian Gulf”, which was rewarded with frenzied applause.
The concerts, which were organized by the Iranian cultural institute, Golcheen-e Ava-ye Sharq, were attended, among others, by UNICEF Iran Representative Christian Salazar and Goodwill Ambassador Mahtab Keramati. Parts of the proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS programme in Iran.