The Department of Music will be hosting the project 'Women and Western Art Music in Iran' after a successful application to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Postdoctoral Fellowship.
The fellowship will be carried out at the University of Toronto and King's by MSCA Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr Michelle Assay.
'The idea for the project came to me in lockdown,' Dr Assay said.
'When facing isolation and separation from my family who live in exile in Canada (we are originally from Iran), I started going back over my childhood and the trauma of growing up in Iran in the early post-revolution years, when music was effectively banned and women were segregated.
'I also thought of those people who courageously went underground and continued to perform and teach music. It was thanks to these people that I was able to get some initial training in music and piano before I finally left Iran for Ukraine when I was 19. I thought there's a story; the story of these people, these women, who stood up to the harshness, to the oppression, to bans, and who refused to stay silent, who continued to sing, to play, to conduct, to dance. The idea of a project that traces the fate of these women and the fate of music - in particular Western Art music - in Iran and the diaspora took shape and WOMUSIRAN was born.'
WOMUSIRAN investigates links between gender, Islam, migration and cultural appropriation, through the prism of Western art music in Iran. It traces the fate of female composers, teachers, scholars and practitioners, whose work and careers fell victim to the 1979 Revolution and to the subsequent tightened controls on women and music-making. The project presents a bottom-up history of the role of those pioneering female musicians in shaping Iran's cultural policies, impacting post-1979 diasporic communities, and contributing to present-day possibilities for women in Iran’s re-emergent musical and cultural life.
The fellowship will be supervised by Professor Martin Stokes.