Art Hounds: Iranian music lights up the Ordway and Lanesboro's history in three plays

The Aras Ensemble is one of the musical acts
The Aras Ensemble is one of the musical acts featured in the "Music of Iran" concert at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 25.
Courtesy of Twin Cities Iranian Culture Collective

Updated: 9:47 a.m.

Raya Esmaeili of northeast Minneapolis is looking forward to the “Music of Iran” concert, part of the Twin Cities Iranian Culture Festival.  The show will feature Minnesota-based artists performing a variety of Iranian music.

One of the groups performing is The Ensemble Aras, consisting of Niloofar Sohi, Negin Chahardoli, Yashar Alizadeh and Aidin Milani. Esmaeili said the group performs music from different ethnic groups and cultures found in Iran, including in different languages.

“If you haven’t heard it before, I think it’s a great introduction,” Esmaeili said.

Others performing include the Twin Cities Daf Ensemble and vocalist Aida Shahghasemi.

The “Music of Iran” concert at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is Sunday at 2 p.m. in St. Paul.


Co-artistic Director of Ragamala Dance Company Aparna Ramaswamy highlights an event for Minnesota writer Will McGrath’s new book “Farewell Transmission: Notes from Hidden Spaces”. The book, published in August, is a collection of essays featuring insight into the lives of people from different parts of the world.  

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One of the people featured in the book, comedian Ali Sultan, will be performing at the event. A conversation with novelist Curtis Sittenfeld will also take place. 

A launch event is Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Sisyphus Brewing in Minneapolis.


Theater professional Catherine Glynn in Lanesboro recommends checking out History ALive! Lanesboro’s pop-up plays “Roma,” “Norskies” and “Bumtown.” Organized by Artistic Director Jane Peck, the pop-up plays depict real events from the towns’ past and are performed for audiences as they tour throughout Lanesboro.  

This year's stories are set in 1935 and allow audience members to walk through a Roma camp, experience a short play in Norwegian and interact with local historical characters like journalist Cecil Ward.  

The pop-up plays take place on Saturday and Sunday, with tours departing from Lanesboro’s Sons of Norway Lodge, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. both days.  

Correction (Sept. 22, 2022): An earlier version of this article misidentified where Raya Esmaeili lives and had the incorrect name of the ensemble. The article has been updated.