In this Wednesday, July 3, 2019 photo, Iranian musicians play while performing 19th century Russian composers in Tehran Symphony Orchestra at Unity Hall, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

At Tehran symphony, music lovers seek escape from reality

July 05, 2019 - 2:53 am

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Aficionados of Western classical music have carved out a niche for themselves in Iran, where cultural expression remains tightly controlled by strict rules imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Perhaps surprisingly, musicians in their 20s and 30s are performing for overwhelmingly young audiences. For devotees, an evening at Tehran's symphony offers a brief respite from heightened tensions with the U.S. and punishing economic sanctions.

The space for artistic expression in Iran expands or contracts depending on whether political hard-liners or moderates prevail.

Hard-liners appear on the upswing again as moderates were dealt a heavy blow by the seeming collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal they negotiated with world powers.

Many concert goers and musicians, however, describe a young generation that is pushing back against the strictures of conservative Islamic rule.

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