By Hiwa Salah
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Rastak is a well-known Iranian band of musicians and composers from different ethnic backgrounds. They revive long-forgotten folk music from various parts of the country and introduce it to the world.
Farzad Moradi is a Rastak musician from Kermanshah. He and his brother are the only Kurds in the group.
“Rastak Group started its activities nearly 20 years ago under the supervision of Siamak Sipherya who is the group’s composer,” Moradi told Rudaw in Erbil recently. “He is a music graduate from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran.”
Moradi explained that foreign audiences are among their target.
“The main task of Rastak Group is to investigate and analyze Iranian folklore music and music of the different nations of the country, rejuvenate folklore products in a way that can relate to people outside Iran.” he said.
Founded two decades ago, Rastak has so far released five albums. Their first album was titled The Old Drawings. All My Nations, The Trumpet of Nawruz, Among Eternal Suns, and Spring are among their memorable albums.
Moradi said that the band digs into areas such as Khorasan, Gilan, Mazindaran, and Azerbaijan “which are home to different cultures,”
The group featured some of their work in Erbil last month at the annual TEDxNishtiman event.
Moradi said that music has no language barriers.
“We were very happy to have an opportunity to be with people in the beautiful city of Erbil and very happy its people like our music,” he said of their performance in the Kurdish capital. “They didn’t understand the language of our songs, yet they managed to relate to the music.”
Lina Dosti is the group’s female violinist. Her life of music started at the age of 11 when she went to the Tehran Girls’ Music Institute. She has now been with Rastak for six years.
“Women musicians play an important role in this group,” Dosti said. “When I started playing violin, there were very few women musicians in Iran. I was particularly compelled to play violin because there are very few female violinists.”
She joined Rastak because the band valued her musical talent and herself as a woman, said Dosti.
“Other groups mostly rely on male musicians, but Rastak is known for benefitting from women and showcasing their talents. This was the reason I stayed with the group and continue my work with them,” she said.