Iconic International Festival invites Iranian Musicians Living In Belfast

10th July, 2023

Iranian musicians Omid Shir Mohammadi & Nasim Heidari, who came to Belfast last year have been invited to perform at a prestigious festival in July, WOMAD.

Iranian musicians Omid Shir Mohammadi and Nasim Heidari
Iranian musicians Omid Shir Mohammadi & Nasim Heidari

WOMAD stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance and is simply the biggest international music festival on the planet. Co-founded by musician and activist Peter Gabriel WOMAD has held more than 300 festivals, creating events in 27 countries.

Omid and Nasim are two of the many artists who have been getting support from Musicians Artists At Risk Resettlement Scheme (MARRS), a programme established in 2021 by Beyond Skin, who also is an organisation supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council. In addition to support from the Arts Council, MARRS is supported by the wider arts, business, and community sectors and aims to assist artists seeking sanctuary.

Born into a family of artists and with the support of his Father and Brother, Omid started learning music and playing the piano and Iranian traditional instruments such as Setar, Tombak, Persian Daf Drum, Classic Guitar, Accordion, Tabla.

His main instrument is the Piano. Omid is also educated in sound engineering and now living in Belfast he is also producing music and collaboration projects with musicians seeking sanctuary and from host communities.

“In Iran my future as a musician was dark, now in Belfast it is bright. It is also my responsibility as a man to help Women who face struggles” said Omid

Nasim, meaning 'breeze' in Persian is a young woman from from Iran who studied architecture at University whilst pursuing her love of singing. Even though Women in Iran are very limited in what they are allowed to sing. Nasim also enjoys playing piano and painting. Now rebuilding her life in Belfast, Nasim is collaborating freely with a diversity of musicians and has performed for The Belfast Lord Mayor and various community events raising also awareness with her voice about the struggles of Women in Iran.

“It is a dream come true to sing music I choose freely” said Nasim about her experience in Belfast. ”I thank Omid for helping me as a singer and pushing my creative ability, we are excited about WOMAD and can’t wait to go there”

Cliffy Cooper, a Director at Orange amps and CEO of Online Music Exams has also come forward to offer Nasim & Omid support regarding their WOMAD festival experience. Online music exams are currently working with Beyond Skin as a Northern Ireland partner supporting people seeking sanctuary in obtaining music qualifications.

Omid & Nasim will perform at the Taste of The World Stage at the WOMAD Festival taking place 27th – 30th July in Malmsbury, England. Taste The World started at a WOMAD Festival in Australia 1992, now synonymous with the festival it is a stage where artists from all over the world are invited to cook a traditional meal for an audience, whilst performing their songs.

Curator of Taste The World stage, Annie Menter said

“Taste the World @ WOMAD 2023 is delighted to welcome Omid Shir Mohammadi and Nasim Heidari from Iran. They will join artists from around the world on our stage, to bring their music and their story to our audiences. Giving voice to artists to share their lived experience through music, food and conversation, opens our hearts and minds to cultural riches both near and far.”

Darren Ferguson founder and CEO of Beyond Skin said

“I am absolutely delighted for Nasim and Omid. We see this daily where creative industries and businesses recognize the talent coming to our shores and understand the value they add to communities and our creative economy, whereas some of our political leaders do not. Nasim and Omid are both representing Iran and Belfast UNESCO Music City on a global stage. That is something every person living in Northern Ireland should be proud of”

Patricia Lavery, Head of Community Arts and Education at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added, 

“We know that taking part in arts activities improves health and wellbeing outcomes and brings people and communities closer together. Congratulations to Iranian musicians, Omid Shir Mohammadi & Nasim Heidar on being invited to perform at WOMAD. Both artists are participants in Beyond Skin’s MARRS programme, a vital lifeline to artists who are facing incredibly difficult circumstances and the Arts Council is proud to support Beyond Skin with this important work.”