Azerbaijan in Stockholm musical celebration

A recent concert in Stockholm City Hall brought the magic of Azerbaijani music to the Swedish capital.

Azerbaijan in Stockholm musical celebration

Azerbaijan has had ample reason to celebrate in the past few weeks – and the cultural ties of the republic in the South Caucasus with Sweden have been heavily in focus.

Last week, the country’s entry won the Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf. The song, Running Scared, was performed by Ell and Nikki and written by a Swedish songwriting team.

In Stockholm last week, however, a more classical strain of Azerbaijani music was on display. The concert in Stockholm City Hall celebrated the 20th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union, and gave Swedes and other guests the chance to experience a rich musical heritage.

The concert was performed to an invited audience, including Swedish members of government and parliament, other public figures and Azerbaijanis living in Sweden. They enjoyed a programme of music by prominent 19th and 20th century Azerbaijani composers.

Composers featured in the programme included Uzeir Hajibayov, Gara Garayev and Fikrat Amirov. The concert was performed by the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, directed by Azerbaijani conductor Azad Aliyev.

Watch a clip from the concert here – ‘Song about mother’ composed by Seville Aliyeva, daughter of the late president Heydar Aliyev:

Stockholm City Hall, best-known internationally as the scene of the annual Nobel Prize Banquet, provided a location of suitable gravitas for the occasion.

Prior to the concert, Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Sweden, Rafael Ibrahimov, spoke of the huge pace of development the country had experienced since independence, with increasing prosperity and a diversifying economy.

Among the soloists performing during the evening were Azer Zeynalov, an award-winning Azerbaijani singer and painist Farhad Badalbayli, dean of the Azerbaijani State Philharmonic Society.

Article sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Stockholm.


Azerbaijan sues French reporters who called it ‘dictatorship’

A court will today hear an unprecedented defamation lawsuit by Azerbaijan against two French journalists in a case that critics describe as an attempt by the ex-Soviet republic to “export its censorship to France."

Azerbaijan sues French reporters who called it 'dictatorship'
The case opens a day after a media investigation revealed that Azerbaijan has allegedly been using a a 2.8-billion-dollar slush fund to buy political influence in Europe and boost the country’s international image.
The lawsuit against the two television journalists has been slammed by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) as “an act of intimidation highlighting the Azerbaijani government’s contempt for free speech.”
“Not content with eradicating all pluralism at home, the regime is now targeting its critics abroad,” RSF said in a statement.
Investigative journalist and television host Elise Lucet and journalist and film-maker Laurent Richard are accused of defaming the Azerbaijani government by referring to it as a “dictatorship” when the former Soviet republic received a visit from then French president Francois Hollande two years ago.
This is the first time a foreign government has brought a defamation suit against journalists before a French court, according to RSF.
The case is due to begin on Tuesday in a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.
The journalists were at the time working on a programme for France 2 television called “Cash Investigation” about the background to Hollande’s trip.
Richard was arrested and later released in Azerbaijan at the end of his reporting trip to cover Hollande’s visit to the oil-rich country of 10 million people in in the South Caucasus region.
Azerbaijan is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index. Its government has “systematically eliminated what remained of media independence.”
“We must not let Baku export its censorship to France,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said.
by Rory Mulholland