Zozan Yasar standing in front of a wooden wall. She has long dark hair. She is wearing a tank top and holding a large camera and microphone against her shoulder.
Aref Ghorbani posing in front of a wooden bookcase. He has dark hair and facial hair, is wearing a floral shirt and is sitting on a wooden chair. He is holding a setar, a small and long string instrument made from wood.
Three musicians are sat in a row on stage in front of an audience. They are illuminated by a stage light. Aref is sitting in the middle with his legs crossed and is speaking to the crowd using a microphone.
Edinburgh International Festival. A man in a formal shirt sits on a dark stage. He is beating a wooden drum which is balanced on his lap.
Edinburgh International Festival. Aref sits on a dark stage with his legs crossed as he plays the setar. There are two mics on stands in front of him.
Edinburgh International Festival. A man sits on a stage. He is holding a large frame drum in both hands. On the floor behind him is another drum and a water bottle.
A performance from Vocal at Edinburgh International Festival. Aref sits on a dark stage with his legs crossed as he plays the setar. There are two mics on stands in front of him and an empty chair behind him.

Vocal نم یادص

Aref Ghorbani Zozan Yasar

image: Vocal | Edinburgh International Festival | The Studio | Jassy Earl

Vocal was a performance of Persian classical and folk music by Iranian vocalist and musician Aref Ghorbani, hosted by Kurdish journalist Zozan Yasar as part of the Refuge series in collaboration with Edinburgh International Festival in August 2022.

The performance was interspersed with questions and conversation around state censorship of music, cultural expression and the everyday restrictions placed on cultural leaders and communities which are still prominent in the world today.

Aref Ghorbani

Aref Ghorbani was born in Iran, where he gained an MSc in Animal Genetics and Breeding before becoming a refugee in Europe; he started working in the refugee sector in Greece in 2016 and came to Scotland in 2018. Since then, he has worked on various projects with refugees. He completed his studies in Global Migrations and Social Justice at University of Glasgow and is currently Destitution Coordinator with the Refugee Survival Trust. Since 2018 he has also been a facilitator of Musicians in Exile, a community project for asylum-seeking and refugee musicians formed by The Glasgow Barons. In 2019, alongside Musicians in Exile, he was awarded the National Diversity Award and an EPIC Award. In 2021 they performed on the opening day of COP26. Ghorbani is the Director of the Iranian Scottish Community artists network, which he founded in 2019 to focus on integration, increase social inclusion and address issues of integration among artists from refugee backgrounds in Scotland. He has collaborated with numerous Scottish artists and has performed at numerous festivals, including Refugee Festival Scotland, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Mela Festival and Solas Festival.

Zozan Yasar

Zozan Yasar is a Kurdish journalist, photographer, storyteller and human rights activist concentrating on women, minority rights, humanitarianism and Middle Eastern politics. She has a BA in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Istanbul. She is the co-founder of the Kurdish Women Podcast, which aims to promote transnational feminism between women all over the world. Her social and political interests have led her to work with a wide variety of organizations and initiatives, including Voice of America in the Middle East, Witness Change Project and media outlets in the UK. Her writing has been published in The Guardian and Vice News, and by the Humanitarian Practice Network. Her recent work includes contributing photography for an illustrated book documenting ‘The Long Walk with Little Amal’, an epic festival that follows the journey of a giant puppet 5,000 miles across Turkey and Europe to bring attention to the plight of refugees and displaced children worldwide


Refuge was a season of contemporary theatre, dance, visual art, film and conversation created in collaboration with Scottish Refugee Council to explore themes of refugeehood, migration, identity and inclusion. Presented seventy-five years after Rudolf Bing, himself a refugee, co-founded the Edinburgh International Festival, this season invited 85 artists from over 15 countries to reflect upon the profound impact that migration has had on arts and culture in Scotland and around the world.

The Refuge series was held at The Studio, supported by British Council, Edinburgh Futures Institute at the University of Edinburgh and Claire and Mark Urquhart. Made possible through the PLACE Programme. In collaboration with Scottish Refugee Council.