PAAIA Celebrates the “Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning” Exhibition in San Francisco

August 16, 2013, Washington D.C. – This past weekend, over one thousand people joined the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) to celebrate the legacy of Cyrus the Great and the “Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning” exhibition in San Francisco, which opened at the Asian Art Museum on August 9, 2013. The exhibition in San Francisco was co-sponsored by Tina and Hamid Moghadam and Bita Daryabari and Dr. Reza Malek in collaboration with PAAIA.

In tandem, the weekend’s activities included PAAIA’s annual gala and award ceremony, annual trustee retreat and dinner reception, and the world premiere of “The King Cyrus Symphonic Suite: From Birth to the Proclamation of Human Rights.”

PAAIA’s annual gala and award ceremony took place at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco. The gala is an opportunity for PAAIA friends and supporters to celebrate PAAIA’s achievements over the past year and honor distinguished Iranian Americans for their life and career achievements. This year’s gala was hosted by actor and comedian Maz Jobrani who also presided, along with Roya Soleimani, a board member of the NexGen Organizing Committee (NOC) over a successful  art auction, representing the beautiful works of artists Nahid Haghighat, Hessam Abrishami, and Farr (Farok) Ligvani.

Mehdi Fakharzadeh was the recipient of PAAIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Fakharzadeh is MetLife’s top sales producer, and the recipient of multiple MetLife and national awards. He has been featured in numerous publications and is a well-known speaker. In accepting PAAIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Fakharzadeh stressed the importance of honesty and perseverance in one’s work. Guests received a copy of his Everything is Possible, his story of success and business/living philosophy.

Hamid Moghadam, the recipient of PAAIA’s Career Achievement Award, is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of AMB Property Corporation, a leading global developer and owner of industrial real estate. He is a past winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and has been named CEO of the Year on six different occasions by three separate industry publications. He is a significant contributor to programs and projects that keep Iranian culture and our heritage alive, such as the Tina and Hamid Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies at Stanford University.

The evening’s highlight was the Persian, French, and English songs performed by Zaza Saleh, accompanied by her son and his band. Her deep and rich voice reminded all of the attendees of the beautiful and deep culture and served as a nostalgic reminder of the beauty of old Iranian songs.

The PAAIA annual trustee retreat took place on Saturday, August 10, at the Asian Art Museum. This event, which allows PAAIA trustees and major donors to participate in a one to two day educational program, featured, among others, Dr. John Curtis, the Keeper of the Middle East Collections at the British Museum, and Forrest McGill, the Chief Curator at the Asian Art Museum, who presented on the cultural and historical significance of the Cyrus Cylinder and the role it has played in world history.  McGill and his team also provided tours of the Cyrus Cylinder exhibition, providing attendees with a unique perspective on the Cylinder and the other objects accompanying the exhibition.

The retreat also included illuminative and highly informative panel presentations on the following topics, all of which generated much discussion among the particpants:

  • “Rejuvenating the Land of Cyrus: Is there a Role for the Diaspora?” with Hamid Biglari and Rouzbeh Pirouz
  • “Separating Wheat from Chaff: The Art of Venture Capital and Angel Investing” led by Kamran Elahian, with presenters Dr. Pedram Mokrian and Pejman Nozad
  • “Beyond Minority Report: Behold the Next Wave of Technological Innovation”, divided into two panels consisting of Anousheh Ansari, Mojgan Khalili, Fereydoun Nazem, Dr. Josef Parvizi, Shervin Pishevar, and Dr. Amin Saberi

During the same evening, over 1,500 Iranian Americans and Americans attended “The King Cyrus Symphonic Suite: From Birth to the Proclamation of Human Rights” at the Nob Hill Masonic Center. The symphony was composed and conducted by Loris Tjeknavorian, whose compositions have been performed by many major orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra in New York, the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, and the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra, among others. The symphony also featured piano soloist Tara Kamangar, narrator Housang Touzie, and soprano Raeeka Shehabi-Yaghmai. The beautiful rendition by Maestro Tjeknavorian combined with the talent of Kamangar, Touzie as the voice of Cyrus the Great, and the amazing voice of Shehabi-Yaghmaee signing “Ey Iran” and “Iran” were the ultimate ending to a remarkable weekend.

This weekend would not have been a success without the involvement and support of many.  PAAIA would like to thank our local organizing committee, Tina and Hamid Moghadam, Bita Daryabari and Reza Malek, our trustees and major donors, the speakers and performers at the various events, and the wonderful guests who were able to attend and add to the success of each of the events.

Click here to view the pictures from PAAIA’s 2013 retreat and gala as well as the King Cyrus Symphonic Suite.


The “Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning” exhibition was organized by the British Museum in partnership with the Iran Heritage Foundation and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The exhibition at the Asian Art Museum is generously supported by Tina and Hamid Moghadam, Bita Daryabari and Dr. Reza Malek in collaboration with the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans.

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