The ex-pat Iranian community in Toronto was hosting the bi-annual global conference that celebrates Persia’s proud history.
The news media was fixated on stories about Iranian nuclear weapon intentions and domestic political repression, and was resistant to an idea that ran counter to what editors saw as the only Iranian story line.
But the ex-pat Iranian community in Toronto is the second largest in North America, ranking after only Los Angeles. It is fiercely proud of its 5,000 years of history, art, architecture, literature and music. In 2008, Toronto hosted the bi-annual international conference on Iranian Studies and wanted media attention to focus on a major piece of music written to celebrate the event.
Tell a “good news” story about Iranian Canadians, their culture and contribution to Canadian life by focusing on The Shahnamah, the Millennial Concert of “The Persian Trilogy” and the Iranian Studies Conference.
The Shahnamah is a literary gem in Persian culture. Written by the poet Ferdowsi, he took 30 years to write some 50,000 rhyming couplets organized into 162 stories and 990 chapters. Nothing comparable exists in English.
By comparison, The Shahnamah is seven times longer than The Iliad, Homer’s epic Greek poem, and 12 times as long as Germany’s national epic, The Nibelungenlied, which Richard Wagner used to create the four operas known as the Ring Cycle.
In 2008, The Shahanmeh celebrated its 1,000th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Persian composer and Julliard professor Behzad Ranjbaran wrote “The Persian Trilogy,” a symphony that would be performed at Roy Thomson Hall in conjunction with the Toronto conference.
First Principles prepared a media kit with a news release, backgrounder and fact sheet. The media kit focused on The Shahnamah and included a CD of the music recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra.
We created a photo opportunity that featured Ranjbaran, as well as the organizer of the conference, Dr. Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi of the University of Toronto. We borrowed several antique volumes of The Shahnamah in Farsi with marvelous illustrations which were put on display.
The media kit was sent to Arts reporters at Toronto’s daily newspapers as well as in selected international cities, along with ethnic media serving Toronto’s Iranian community.
A half-page story about the event and The Shahnamah appeared in The Toronto Star. The National Post also covered the event and television interviews were booked. Several articles also appeared in the Iranian community ethnic press.