Iran’s National Orchestra Disbanded

Iran’s national symphony orchestra has disbanded over a lack of funds, according to a statement by musicians on Monday — another sign of the crippling effects of Western economic sanctions.

Orchestra members spoke with ILNA news agency about the group, saying that they have not rehearsed together or been paid for the past three month, reports Yahoo! News.

Violinist Arsalan Kamkar stated that “only seven or eight members of the orchestra have valid contracts. Unfortunately the rest have not had contracts over the past months, and it seems unlikely their contracts will be extended.”

The Iranian orchestra was just reactivated in 2011 following a two-year break. One other musician, Babak Riahipour, blamed mismanagement for the orchestra’s problems, saying:

“Nobody cares about its destiny. There is no budget for replacing decades-old instruments. Nobody pays the players enough.”


Fox News notes that the disbanding of the Iranian orchestra is likely because of higher economic woes in the country. The economic problems are a combination of government mismanagement, as well as Western sanctions combating Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian currency has collapsed as a result of the sanctions.

Iran’s orchestra was founded in the 1930s, making it one of the oldest in the Middle East. It has hosted performances by musicians like Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern.

There have been eight different conductors of the orchestra since the revolution in 1979 that helped Islamists rise to power in the Middle Eastern nation. Many more traditional Iranian clerics believe that Western music, like what an orchestra plays, will undermine Islamic values.

Kamkar added that Iran’s orchestra disbanding shows that the country’s rulers are not favorable to it, because its budget is a “small portion of Iran’s income from oil.”