Iran Orchestra Shuts Down

The Ayatollah attended in August at what would be the orchestra's final curtain call


It was a VIP audience for what was likely the last performance of the venerable Tehran Symphony Orchestra. Watching from the front row in late August was Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in what was seen as an endorsement from the ruling theocracy, which once tried to stamp out all music as a violation of Islamic values.

Just two months later, the musicians are out of work, funding has run dry and a nearly 80-year-old institution that survived wars, coups and the 1979 Islamic Revolution was declared Tuesday in an apparently irreversible "coma" by media.