Female artists and AV blockbusters at Tehran Contemporary Sounds

A focus on female composers and electronic artists from Iran – alongside big AV productions like CDM favorites Temp-Illusion – is front and center at Tehran Contemporary Sounds in Berlin this weekend. If you can’t be there, we’ve got a big lineup of music to queue up.

First, the mood for music events is obviously difficult right now, especially given the diversity of Berlin. Jewish, Arabic, Israeli, Palestinian, and other communities are hurting, atop disasters and war elsewhere on planet Earth that all refuse to let up. This time last year, the same festival was taking place under the shadow of the repressive response to protests in Iran, and artists had to reflect to be able to move forward with music. But this year’s events are just as interconnected. Some of the most impassioned anger about Hamas I received personally actually came from my Iranian diaspora network, who have no love lost with their native country’s government or its support for proxy terror elsewhere. I don’t want to speak for any community – all communities speak with many conflicting voices. But we can listen.

I wrote about past editions that the sense of this festival was not “here is a showcase of Iranian artists”, but a glimpse at an alternative reality where Tehran was the kind of open capital Berlin is. Looking down this lineup, I see artist after artist I connect with because, even if we speak different native spoken languages, they say things with their music that I can’t say even in English. It speaks to feeling. And right now, with so much horror and the need to process emotions and give some love to those around us who are hurting, I think hearing something in that emotional language is more important than ever.

There are echoes in resistance struggles across distant scenes, too. With this largely female lineup, we truly see an alternate reality with a freer Iran and region – and maybe, honestly, a freer Germany and Europe.

From my dear friend curator Behrooz, here’s some background reading for us on that connection between resistance and sound:

Sounding a Revolution: Feminist Resistance in Iran [Glissando]

The Iran Female Composers Association is well worth your time, just to name one participating partner, as a hotbed of some of the greatest concert music talent worldwide.

More on the festival:


And there’s so much to say about each one of these artists that I’m just going to paste all the sounds TCS has. I hope they speak to someone right now.

A very sincere open invitation: if you have music that for you is helping deal with events and want to share with us, let me know. (Say so in comments or via our news tip form.)

TCS runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 13 – 15 at Studio 1, Kunstquartier Bethanien (at Mariannenplatz.)

First, the teaser:

Planning your time if you are here:
Lineup 768x768 1

And the artists:

Aftab Darvishi, Mahyar Tahmasbi & BSA Quartet (30M Records Showcase)

Arefeh Hekmatpanah (IFCA Showcase)

Mariam Rezaei

Saba Alizadeh (30M Records Showcase)

Rojin Sharafi

Shaahin Peymani & Maryam Katan

Aida Shirazi (IFCA Showcase)




Elshan Ghasimi (IFCA Showcase)

Sofia Labropoulou & Shabnam Parvaresh

Abolish i

Ava Rasti

Sara Davachi

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