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Shahnameh in the Classroom: Iranian Music and DIY Cultural Diplomacy in the UK

Nooshin, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-8737-5224 (2024). Shahnameh in the Classroom: Iranian Music and DIY Cultural Diplomacy in the UK. In: Lopes da Cunha, M. M. R., Shannon, J., Møller Sørensen, S. & Danielson, V. (Eds.), Music and Cultural Diplomacy in the Middle East: Geopolitical Re-Configurations for the 21st Century. (pp. 123-146). Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-36279-8_6


On 23rd May 2012, Price Zal and the Simorgh, an orchestral piece based on a story from the Iranian epic poem, the Shahnameh, was premiered at two Brightsparks schools concerts at London’s Royal Festival Hall. This was the result of a collaboration between the Education and Community Department at the London Philharmonic Orchestra, City, University of London and London Music Masters. The project included a strong educational focus, including workshops, teacher resources and training sessions. The central aim was to introduce Iran, by way of its music and storytelling, as well as broader aspects of culture and history, to British school children, and in particular to counter negative associations that children experience via the mainstream media. A follow-on project to create a children’s picture book with music, composed and performed by Iranian musicians and based on the same story, led to The Phoenix of Persia which was published in 2019.

Drawing on personal observations, feedback from participants and wider project evaluations, this chapter will explore these projects in light of current debates around cultural diplomacy. To what extent might educational work promoting cultural understanding be understood as a form of cultural diplomacy and what are the challenges to using music and other arts in such an instrumentalised way?

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity
School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Final Accepted Version, Nov 2023, Laudan Nooshin, Music and Cultural Diplomacy in the Middle East.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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