Celebration of Yalda: the story of Layla and Majnu
Storytelling by Zahra Afsah, accompanied by Arash Moradi
Layla and Majnun as children at school
(British Library IO Islamic 384, f. 7r)
Organised by: Iran Heritage Foundation, in conjunction with Asia House
Date: Wednesday 5th December, 18.30-21.00
Venue: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
Join us for our final event of the year at an evening in early anticipation of Shab-e Yalda. Celebrated on the eve of the winter solstice, Yalda marks the turning point when the days start to get longer. It is a time when families traditionally get together and stay up all the night listening to music, reading poetry, and telling stories. While we may not be up all night, we will be treated to a performance by established storyteller Zahra Afsah, who will recount the epic tale of Layla and Majnun, described by Lord Byron as the ‘Romeo and Juliet of the East’. Zahra will be accompanied instrumentally by musician Arash Moradi. This will be followed by a reception with drinks and nibbles.
Zahra Afsah was born and raised in Tehran. She studied Art and Archaeology at SOAS and in 2016 completed her second MA in Persian Painting and Transcultural Visuality at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her MA dissertation examines the links between oral storytelling and Persian miniature painting, exploring the direct influences of the oral tradition in the Khamseh of Nizami of 1494-95.. She started her storytelling career by telling Persian tales to children and running workshops in schools where her focus has been on telling and retelling stories by Nizami and Firdawsi. She has also performed in museums and institutions as well as informal settings. In June 2018 she completed the UK's only national storytelling development programme (TellYours2018), which aims to transform the way stories are told, and she showcased a Persian tale at both Canada Water Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre.
Arash Moradi was born in the Kurdish city of Kermanshah in western Iran. He is the eldest son of Iran's leading tanbour player Aliakbar Moradi. Arash started learning tanbour at an early age from his father.. He has played in numerous concerts and festivals throughout Iran, Europe, and America. In 2006 Arash performed as a soloist at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. One of his recent engagements has been working with Rotterdam Film Festival in the Netherlands, demonstrating Persian and Kurdish music. Arash lives in London where he teaches tanbour, runs workshops on Persian and Kurdish music, and also cooperates with different musicians from all over the world.
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