By Ulya Aligulova

The Azerbaijani Society of Maine (ASM) held “Celebrating Diversity through Music 2021,” a live music event, on March 13 at the performance venue Aura in Portland. The event celebrated the diversity and richness of music and dance in Azerbaijani, Turkish, Iranian, and Middle Eastern culture.

The live event, which adhered to CDC guidelines on COVID-19 safety, featured both music and dance. Azerbaijani jazz pianist Emil Afrasiyab, who recently concluded his studies at Berklee College of Music, played several pieces by the famous Azerbaijani composer Vagif Mustafazadeh. His wife Leyla Afrasiyab, a classically trained vocalist, sang songs in four languages. Sabina Najafova, who was part of the Azerbaijan International dance ensemble, performed traditional dances. Iranian musician Afshin Mahmoodi, who is part of the Yade Yar music ensemble, played the traditional Iranian instruments Daf and Tombak. The event was co-hosted by Tarlan Ahmadov and Roya Hejabian.

The Azerbaijan Society of Maine was founded in 2006 and became a registered nonprofit organization in 2019. The society’s mission is to promote and celebrate Azerbaijan’s cultural heritage in Maine and strengthen ties between the people of Maine and Azerbaijan through education, cross-cultural exchange, and integration of newly arrived immigrants to Maine.

Since summer 2020, ASM has provided personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, and food to more than 65 households and over 200 individuals across Cumberland and York counties. In addition, they have translated and distributed educational materials about the pandemic in Albanian, Azerbaijani,