Violinist Paran Amirinazari on being inspired by selfless people, experiencing awe in music, and finding ‘enlightening moments’

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MTT News's picture
Matt Geiger
“I honestly like to experience live music like a child might - finding simple things that are awe-inspiring,” says violinist Paran Amirinazari.

The Middleton Community Orchestra will present its final concert of the current season on Wednesday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Middleton Performing Arts Center, 2100 Bristol St.

Violinist Paran Amirinazari will be the soloist in the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2 in g minor.  Also on the program is Borodin’s Prince Igor Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. 

Currently pursuing her Doctorate at UW-Madison, Amirinazari is a violinist with the Hunt String quartet, studying with Soh-Hyun Altino and Felicia Moye.  An avid chamber musician, she is the Artistic Director of the Willy Street Chamber Players and is a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra first violin section. She has also played with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.  A native of Boston, Paran holds a Bachelor of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied with Mr. James Buswell IV.  Paran has been the concertmaster of the Middleton Community Orchestra since 2015. 

Amirinazari recently took some time to answer questions from the Times-Tribune, detailing her love of music (and life in general), her collaboration with the Middleton Community Orchestra, and how the sounds of a violin at a childhood friend’s home inspired her to become a professional musician.

Middleton Times-Tribune: First, tell us a little about yourself. Not just as a musician, but as a person. What was your childhood like? What things, aside from music, do you find beautiful and compelling?

Amirinazari: I’m a native of Boston, Massachusetts, who landed in Madison following my graduate studies in Reno, Nevada and have been in Madison for almost four years now. Outdoor adventures, and food, are two of my favorite interests outside of music, but it is sometimes difficult to find time for those things due to the busy nature of my schedule.

I’m an only child of two strong-willed, intelligent, fiery, morally driven parents that have given me the greatest upbringing I could have ever asked for. I grew up surrounded by people whose mission it)has been to bring freedom and equality for the people (specifically women) of Iran. I learned at a very early age what truly selfless people are, and that they are few and far between in this world. The life of my parents is a bit of a unique and mildly cinematic, story that is probably for another time. Nonetheless, I have some pretty stellar humans in my life.

Middleton Times-Tribune: How and when did music come into your life, both as an aesthetic and as a professional discipline?

Amirinazari: One afternoon, roughly twenty-five years ago, I was hanging out after school at my friend Shankir’s house when her mom told us that Shankir needed to practice violin for twenty minutes, and then we could continue playing. I sat in the corner of the dining room as she practiced and those twenty minutes were mesmerizing and permanently imprinted on my mind. Following that day I started pleading with my parents to let me play violin (which at the time was a financial impossibility.) Once my parents realized my desire to play violin was not diminishing, they did everything in their power to find a way to make it work. I would probably not be playing violin today as my profession if it weren’t for the generosity of many wonderful people.

It was during high school when it started becoming much clearer to me that my life revolved primarily around music. The experiences I had, and created for myself, during high school launched me into this life that I’m so grateful to have. I now realize that it’s not just about how much I enjoy playing music that made it possible to become a violinist, but that learning an instrument involves a certain kind of discipline, a constant progress and appreciation for the process, self-reflection, solitary and social environments, as well as a nice balance of physical and mental challenges.

I understood it was not going to be the most lucrative profession but knew that it was the profession that I would be committed to and one that matched my personality.

Middleton Times-Tribune: Classical music is so powerful, and so much more ubiquitous than most people realize. We grow up hearing it in cartoons, commercials, movies and more. But many people think it’s inaccessible, or that it can only be enjoyed by people who have an almost scholarly understanding of it. What would you say to someone whose concerns about accessibility might be keeping them away from wonderful concerts like those put on by the MCO?

Amirinazari: Each person’s experience of an event is different and personal; the same goes for listening to classical music. A person should allow themselves to figure out how they personally experience it. No one can tell you how it should feel or sound especially with classical music when there are so many different components that can be attractive to different people.

Even as a ‘scholarly’ listener it’s hard for me to articulate how I personally experience listening to live classical music. I mainly like to hear and feel the sounds coming from the stage and have the sounds transport me wherever my mind decides to go that day. I have studied music and that allows me to understand the structural and theoretical components but I honestly like to experience live music like a child might - finding simple things that are awe-inspiring.

My advice would be to allow yourself to zone in and out and see what part of a piece being performed is engaging you at the moment. Allow yourself to experience the music in whatever way you can and when the concert is over you have familiarized yourself with a classical concert. You’ll find programs, much like MCO’s upcoming concert, to have lots of variety in programming as well as diversity within each individual piece. You will experience powerful brass choirs, quirky percussion sections, graceful dances, mournful melodies in the woodwinds, and string players plucking wildly, just to name a few. There truly is something for everyone!

Middleton Times-Tribune: I think I read that Mozart is your favorite composer. Why?

Amirinazari: His music is funny, quirky, elegant, soulful, natural, vocal, simple yet complicated, and timeless; all elements that I appreciate in music and in other aspects of life.

Middleton Times-Tribune: How have you evolved as a musician over the years? (Oh, on a related note, how old are you?)

Amirinazari: Every day there are multiple enlightening moments that add to this ‘evolution’ but the broadest element that I have gained in the most recent years is becoming a more flexible musician. I recently turned 33 and consequently, I find myself absorbing new information faster and adjusting my approach to the violin much quicker and with greater ease.

Middleton Times-Tribune: Anything else?

Amirinazari: I love my life. I have the opportunity to play with so many groups here in Madison like the Madison Symphony, the Willy Street Chamber Players, solo recitals with amazing collaborators, and teaching wonderful students. My experience preparing for the June 7th concert with MCO has been incredibly fulfilling and I’m extremely thankful to the Middleton Community Orchestra for inviting me to perform and for being so sincerely committed to music. I’m looking forward to a fun concert!!


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