Spring 2001 (9.1)

Alim Gasimov's Latest Concert in Tabriz

From March 3-15, 2001, Alim also had a very successful series of performances in Tabriz, Iran. It was his first visit to this city, which boasts the largest Azerbaijani population in what is often referred to as Southern Azerbaijan. Tabriz is Iran's third largest city, with a population of more than 2 million. For years, people in Tabriz had been begging Alim to come and give a concert. The only other performance that the mugham master had ever made in Iran was at a festival in Tehran in 1993.

Originally Alim had intended to give five concerts in Tabriz, but interest ran so high that ten concerts were scheduled, two a day. The auditorium was packed each day. Although the auditorium seats 700 people, more than 1,000 people attended each performance. It became nearly impossible to get tickets for these sell-out performances. Concerts were scheduled to last only one hour each, but they usually lasted 1 1/2 to 2 hours and the final performance was 2 1/2 hours long.

Reportedly, during Alim's rendition of the Azerbaijani folk song "Sari Galin" (Yellow Bride), the concert organizers had to pass out tissues because so many men and women in the audience were emotionally touched and started crying. Since the 1960s, Azerbaijani music performances were discouraged. Only recently has the government begun to allow Azerbaijanis to begin performing publicly. Alim's daughter, Fargana, 21, who usually performs with him, did not do so in Iran. Women are not allowed to perform on stage as featured soloists when there are men in the audience.

When Alim was leaving the concert, fans surrounded the car. One girl pushed her hand through the window, begging for Alim to write his autograph on her hand. He didn't oblige, as it is against Iranian rules for a man to sign a woman's hand.

For more about new trends related to Azerbaijani music in Iran, see the article featuring
Rahim Shahriyari in this issue.

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