Iranian conductor Ali Rahbari (bottom-L) conducts the Tehran Symphony Orchestra at the Vahdat Hall in Tehran on March 16, 2015
Iranian conductor Ali Rahbari (bottom-L) conducts the Tehran Symphony Orchestra at the Vahdat Hall in Tehran on March 16, 2015 © Amir Pourmand - ISNA/AFP
Iranian conductor Ali Rahbari (bottom-L) conducts the Tehran Symphony Orchestra at the Vahdat Hall in Tehran on March 16, 2015
AFP
Last updated: March 18, 2015

Top conductor who quit Ahmadinejad's Iran ends exile

A renowned Iranian conductor has given a concert in his homeland nine years after leaving in protest at a lack of support from the government of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reports said Tuesday.

Ali Rahbari was back on stage with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra during a concert in the capital on Monday night, playing Beethoven's 9th Symphony before an audience that included foreign diplomats.

"It was one of the best nights of my life, because I saw the symphony back on stage," Rahbari was quoted as saying in the media.

Educated and based in Austria, Rahbari worked in several European countries before returning to Iran in 2005 to take the helm of the Tehran orchestra shortly before the hardline Ahmadinejad came to power.

But he left the post the next year after having conducted several concerts -- which also featured the 9th Symphony -- because of financial problems and inadequate support from the authorities.

The orchestra was then headed by various conductors but it continued to be plagued by financial difficulties, including wages seen as far too low for its musicians.

Rahbari was reappointed director on March 3, and he has welcomed the willingness of moderate President Hassan Rouhani to "restore orchestras" in the country.

Monday night's performance "means the fulfillment of the wish of the president, who has many opponents," the conductor was quoted as saying by the press.

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