- Professor Laudan Nooshin (Principal Investigator)
The book which received an initial 4000 print run in May 2019, is accessible to families and schools across the UK and has supported ongoing work with GCSE/A Level examination boards with a view to including a piece of Iranian or Middle Eastern music in the syllabus.
The book inspires a positive change in how young people in the UK learn about and perceive Iranian culture, counteracting more negative perspectives often offered in the media.
What did we explore and how?
Professor Laudan Nooshin has spent over 30 years researching Iranian music cultures across the world.
In 2011 Professor Nooshin initiated the Shahnameh Project with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, introducing Key Stage 2 children to Iranian music and culture.
A spinout of the project was the book: The Phoenix of Persia. Published by Tiny Owl, the book tells a storyfrom the Shahnameh, one of the great epics of world literature, by the 10th century Iranian poet Ferdowsi.
The story tells of a king who awaits the birth of his son but when the child is born with white hair, he is banished to the forest. The young child is brought up by a phoenix until his father realises the love he has lost and seeks his return.
In her research Professor Nooshin explored the creative processes in Iranian classical music and the ways in which popular music has, since the 1979 Revolution, served as an arena for negotiating ideas about national identity, hegemony and resistance and youth empowerment.
Benefits and influence of this research
In partnership with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the project was taken on by the Cornwall Youth Orchestra in April 2015, where it was performed in Launceston and Truro.
The orchestra was selected to play at the National Festival of Music for Youth in Birmingham and another performance at the Royal Albert Hall for the prestigious Youth Proms in November 2015.
These concerts celebrated innovative and creative music-making from young musicians across the UK on a national platform.
In education the book has been published with cross-curricular teacher resources for Key Stage 2, covering subjects including maths, PSHE, geography, English, history, music and art.
New music has also been composed for the book, using themes from David Bruce’s orchestral score with a smaller ensemble of Iranian instruments to aid the educational function of the book.
The book has quickly attracted the attention of teachers and received positive reviews online.
Gahan acknowledged the cultural diversity of the book and the underlying messages of forgiveness and celebrating difference.
Professor Nooshin’s work on Iranian popular music has also contributed significantly to the development of what was previously a largely unresearched area.
Overall, her research has enhanced knowledge of a rich, historically-rooted culture and acted as a counterbalance to the sometimes negative representation of Iranian culture in the British media.