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OPINION LEADERS ISSUE 10

Summer Issue 10 of the Opinion Leaders Newspaper

LAYLA RAMEZAN “I am at

LAYLA RAMEZAN “I am at my most honest and true self when at the piano” Layla Ramezan has always sought to create a connection between her Persian origins and the contemporary music which she encounters daily. As pianist and president of the Geneva based Matka Contemporary Ensemble, she has instigated several intercultural exchange projects with Iran and collaborated with composers such as Tristan Murail, Michael Jarrell, Luis Naón, Nicolas Bolens and William Blank. Her musical education began in Tehran with Mostafa-Kamal Pourtorab. After moving to Paris in 2000, she attended the École Normale de Musique de Paris “Alfred Cortot,” followed by Lausanne’s Haute École de Musique, obtaining two Master’s degrees in performance and accompaniment. She is sponsored by Albert Roussel Fondation in Paris and Engelberts Fondation in Lausanne. She is the founder and artistic director of the “Barbad Piano Prize” competition in Shiraz for the young pianists. Layla Ramezan tours and performs in Europe, USA, Canada and Iran and appears as soloist with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra and the Tehran Orchestra for New Music. Her performances had been broadcasted by Radio France, RTV Swiss ,NPO Netherlands and CBC Radio Canada. Her primary recording project is 100 Years of Iranian Piano Music(Label Paraty Production (Harmonia Mundi)), which will span four volumes, the first of which was released in January 2017 and it exposes the 50's and beyond Iranian piano music. Q: Layla please tell me, when and mainly what was the crucial motive that opened you door to the wonderful world of music? A: The first time that I heard the piano, I fell in love with the sound of the instrument. I insisted immediately to my parents that they buy one. Eventually, they gave in and I started to take piano lessons when I was seven years old. Q: How do you combine your Persian roots with classical music and your apparent contemporary influence? A: For me, Persian traditional music and European Classical music are two very different worlds of music. The one type seeks freedom through structure and written notation, and the other rejects these notions with the hope that something new is created from this. My interpretation is a collision of these two worlds. I am always trying to express and inspire myself with one world or the other, with a focus that strays away from stereotypes. For example, all of the Traditional and Folk Persian music of my childhood in Iran, has given me a particular sensitivity to rhythm in Western Music. Q: What describes best your musical character? Are you the same person in everyday life with Layla whilst performing? A: I always try to be very honest in my interpretation and faithful to the score which I am interpreting. I can say that I am at my most honest and true self when at the piano. Q: You have been many times performing on the occasion of Iranian events. Are there state representatives in arts and especially in music? A: In recent years I have had performances in Iran in various different cities. Some of these performances were organized and supported by the “Iran Music Association” (anjoman e moosighiy e Iran), which is one of the musical state representatives. Sometimes these concerts are supported by private foundations such as “Sharhr e Aftab” in Shiraz. However, in general when you perform in Iran as an artist you need permission from the government. Q: Would you like to name people that have influenced you until today, but also people that our readers should be aware of their names and their contribution to music? A: I would like to mention my husband, Blaise Ubaldini, renowned French composer and clarinetist, whose way of seeing music is always a source of strong inspiration both in my life and my projects. My first professor, Mustafa- Kamal Pourtorab, had a very important role in the development of my artistic personality and Svetlana Navassardyan, the great Armenian pianist, who taught me during my years in Paris. Among the great composers across all centuries, I would like to mention and quote Mozart, as he said, “By the power of music, we will walk cheerfully through the dark night of death”. Also, the great musical personalities such as Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim and Giorgy Sokolov, without forgetting the great proponents of Iranian music such as the composer Fozié Majd and the researcher Mohammad-Reza Darvishi. Mr. Darvishi travelled across Iran over a period of thirty years in search of the roots of Iranian regional music, creating his prize awarded book named “the Encyclopedia of the Musical Instruments of Iran.” Q: What is your involvement with young artists, how do you promote music to the young generations? You have been part of groups like the “Triofan3mg” that one could say that radicalize in the promotion and performance of classical instruments. A: I love to teach the piano and to give the benefit of my musical experience and knowledge to my young students. I always try to pass on, the love of the very pure music of my childhood combined with the knowledge I gained studying in Europe. I am also the Artistic Director, and one of the founders, of the « Barbad Piano Prize » in Iran-Shiraz. My goal is to increase the motivation there to create a healthy competitive environment for youth. In addition to this I would like to create an opportunity for Iranian pianists to study in world class international music institutions and conservatories. I also founded the chamber ensemble “Triofane3mg”, with French clarinetist Blaise Ubaldini and Swiss violinist Valerie Bernard. We created Triofane3mg in order to perform some pieces of the classical and contemporary repertoire that often are not performed for the public, and to present this work in venues that aren’t necessarily made for these types of performances. We would like this remarkable music to become accessible for everyone, especially the younger generation, who can appreciate and understand this type of music like any other style. Q: Do you believe that the use of technology directs children’s interests to specific types of arts/music minimizing potential choices? How do you predict the future regarding this issue? Undoubtedly music has also evolved through the progression of technology, but is the “mixture” of music and technology always towards the correct direction? A: For me, music cannot evolve without progression in technology. The piano is a result of the evolution of the harpsichord thanks to technology. Today I see my husband, like many composers, writing music with the help of programs on his computer. I think that we should benefit from the technological revolution without forgetting the old musical traditions, a lot of which are a strong source of enrichment to music written today. Q: Do you agree with the opinion that art flows in certain people’s veins or that it is inherited somehow, or you believe that it is purely cultivated? A: Everyone can discover a talent in music, and from this point of view, it is something innate. But those who have a musical family are given an advantage to help develop this talent very quickly. I, however, was not raised in a musical family. Q: Please talk to us about your origins, your life livings in Switzer- OPINION LEADERS land, its influences and the best and the worst part of it’’. A: I am Iranian, born in Teheran. I lived in Iran until I was eighteen, and afterwards moved to Paris, and Lausanne, where I still live, to continue my piano studies. My life in Europe has been very enriching and I have been able to interact with many different cultures and nations. It has also deepened my musical knowledge and allowed me to study at prestigious institutions under the tutelage of great masters of the piano. I married a French musician, who has an interest in language and other cultures, which has helped me see my own country and culture through different eyes and ultimately, to create stronger ties to Iran, and an appreciation of the life I have in Europe. This is why I have endeavoured to create several intercultural musical projects. Studying in Europe has allowed me to take an interest in the piano repertoire of my native country and I have created the project “100 years of Iranian Piano Music.” I will record a total of four CD’s dedicated to this repertoire, which will be distributed by Harmonia Mundi. Living far away from your family and home country is difficult, because you often feel like you have to make an effort to be understood or accepted. There are good and bad sides to living away from your country of origin. Q: What has been your motto in life? A: Trust in yourself, before anyone else does. ■ 18 19

OPINION LEADERS ISSUE 11
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