Summer Issue 10 of the Opinion Leaders Newspaper

Summer Issue 10 of the Opinion Leaders Newspaper


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LAYLA<br />


“I am at my most honest and true self when at the piano”<br />

Layla Ramezan has always sought to create a<br />

connection between her Persian origins and<br />

the contemporary music which she encounters<br />

daily. As pianist and president of the Geneva<br />

based Matka Contemporary Ensemble, she<br />

has instigated several intercultural exchange<br />

projects with Iran and collaborated with<br />

composers such as Tristan Murail, Michael<br />

Jarrell, Luis Naón, Nicolas Bolens and<br />

William Blank. Her musical education began<br />

in Tehran with Mostafa-Kamal Pourtorab. After<br />

moving to Paris in 2000, she attended the<br />

École Normale de Musique de Paris “Alfred<br />

Cortot,” followed by Lausanne’s Haute École<br />

de Musique, obtaining two Master’s degrees<br />

in performance and accompaniment. She is<br />

sponsored by Albert Roussel Fondation in<br />

Paris and Engelberts Fondation in Lausanne.<br />

She is the founder and artistic director of the<br />

“Barbad Piano Prize” competition in Shiraz for<br />

the young pianists. Layla Ramezan tours and<br />

performs in Europe, USA, Canada and Iran and<br />

appears as soloist with the Tehran Symphony<br />

Orchestra and the Tehran Orchestra for New<br />

Music. Her performances had been<br />

broadcasted by Radio France, RTV Swiss<br />

,NPO Netherlands and CBC Radio Canada. Her<br />

primary recording project is <strong>10</strong>0 Years of Iranian<br />

Piano Music(Label Paraty Production (Harmonia<br />

Mundi)), which will span four volumes, the first<br />

of which was released in January 2017 and<br />

it exposes the 50's and beyond Iranian piano<br />

music.<br />

Q: Layla please tell me, when and<br />

mainly what was the crucial motive<br />

that opened you door to the wonderful<br />

world of music?<br />

A: The first time that I heard the piano,<br />

I fell in love with the sound of the instrument.<br />

I insisted immediately to my<br />

parents that they buy one. Eventually,<br />

they gave in and I started to take piano<br />

lessons when I was seven years old.<br />

Q: How do you combine your Persian<br />

roots with classical music and<br />

your apparent contemporary influence?<br />

A: For me, Persian traditional music<br />

and European Classical music are two<br />

very different worlds of music. The one<br />

type seeks freedom through structure<br />

and written notation, and the other rejects<br />

these notions with the hope that<br />

something new is created from this. My<br />

interpretation is a collision of these two<br />

worlds. I am always trying to express<br />

and inspire myself with one world or<br />

the other, with a focus that strays away<br />

from stereotypes. For example, all of<br />

the Traditional and Folk Persian music<br />

of my childhood in Iran, has given me<br />

a particular sensitivity to rhythm in<br />

Western Music.<br />

Q: What describes best your musical<br />

character? Are you the same<br />

person in everyday life with Layla<br />

whilst performing?<br />

A: I always try to be very honest in my<br />

interpretation and faithful to the score<br />

which I am interpreting. I can say that<br />

I am at my most honest and true self<br />

when at the piano.<br />

Q: You have been many times performing<br />

on the occasion of Iranian<br />

events. Are there state representatives<br />

in arts and especially in<br />

music?<br />

A: In recent years I have had performances<br />

in Iran in various different<br />

cities. Some of these performances<br />

were organized and supported by the<br />

“Iran Music Association” (anjoman e<br />

moosighiy e Iran), which is one of the<br />

musical state representatives. Sometimes<br />

these concerts are supported by<br />

private foundations such as “Sharhr e<br />

Aftab” in Shiraz. However, in general<br />

when you perform in Iran as an artist<br />

you need permission from the government.<br />

Q: Would you like to name people<br />

that have influenced you until<br />

today, but also people that our<br />

readers should be aware of their<br />

names and their contribution to<br />

music?<br />

A: I would like to mention my husband,<br />

Blaise Ubaldini, renowned French<br />

composer and clarinetist, whose way<br />

of seeing music is always a source of<br />

strong inspiration both in my life and<br />

my projects. My first professor, Mustafa-<br />

Kamal Pourtorab, had a very important<br />

role in the development of my artistic<br />

personality and Svetlana Navassardyan,<br />

the great Armenian pianist, who<br />

taught me during my years in Paris.<br />

Among the great composers across<br />

all centuries, I would like to mention<br />

and quote Mozart, as he said, “By the<br />

power of music, we will walk cheerfully<br />

through the dark night of death”. Also,<br />

the great musical personalities such as<br />

Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim and<br />

Giorgy Sokolov, without forgetting the<br />

great proponents of Iranian music such<br />

as the composer Fozié Majd and the<br />

researcher Mohammad-Reza Darvishi.<br />

Mr. Darvishi travelled across Iran<br />

over a period of thirty years in search<br />

of the roots of Iranian regional music,<br />

creating his prize awarded book named<br />

“the Encyclopedia of the Musical<br />

Instruments of Iran.”<br />

Q: What is your involvement with<br />

young artists, how do you promote<br />

music to the young generations?<br />

You have been part of groups like<br />

the “Triofan3mg” that one could<br />

say that radicalize<br />

in the promotion<br />

and performance of classical instruments.<br />

A: I love to teach the piano and to give<br />

the benefit of my musical experience<br />

and knowledge to my young students.<br />

I always try to pass on, the love of the<br />

very pure music of my childhood combined<br />

with the knowledge I gained studying<br />

in Europe. I am also the Artistic<br />

Director, and one of the founders, of the<br />

« Barbad Piano Prize » in Iran-Shiraz.<br />

My goal is to increase the motivation<br />

there to create a healthy competitive<br />

environment for youth. In addition to<br />

this I would like to create an opportunity<br />

for Iranian pianists to study in world<br />

class international music institutions<br />

and conservatories. I also founded the<br />

chamber ensemble “Triofane3mg”, with<br />

French clarinetist Blaise Ubaldini and<br />

Swiss violinist Valerie Bernard. We created<br />

Triofane3mg in order to perform<br />

some pieces of the classical and contemporary<br />

repertoire that often are not<br />

performed for the public, and to present<br />

this work in venues that aren’t necessarily<br />

made for these types of performances.<br />

We would like this remarkable<br />

music to become accessible for everyone,<br />

especially the younger generation,<br />

who can appreciate and understand this<br />

type of music like any other style.<br />

Q: Do you believe that the use of<br />

technology directs children’s interests<br />

to specific types of arts/music<br />

minimizing potential choices? How<br />

do you predict the future regarding<br />

this issue? Undoubtedly music has<br />

also evolved through the progression<br />

of technology, but is the “mixture”<br />

of music and technology always<br />

towards the correct direction?<br />

A: For me, music cannot evolve without<br />

progression in technology. The piano<br />

is a result of the evolution of the<br />

harpsichord thanks to technology. Today<br />

I see my husband, like many composers,<br />

writing music with the help of<br />

programs on his computer. I think that<br />

we should benefit from the technological<br />

revolution without forgetting the<br />

old musical traditions, a lot of which<br />

are a strong source of enrichment to<br />

music written today.<br />

Q: Do you agree with the opinion<br />

that art flows in certain people’s<br />

veins or that it is inherited somehow,<br />

or you believe that it is purely<br />

cultivated?<br />

A: Everyone can discover a talent in<br />

music, and from this point of view, it is<br />

something innate. But those who have<br />

a musical family are given an advantage<br />

to help develop this talent very<br />

quickly. I, however, was not raised in a<br />

musical family.<br />

Q: Please talk to us about your origins,<br />

your life livings in Switzer-<br />

<strong>OPINION</strong> <strong>LEADERS</strong><br />

land, its influences and the best and<br />

the worst part of it’’.<br />

A: I am Iranian, born in Teheran. I lived<br />

in Iran until I was eighteen, and afterwards<br />

moved to Paris, and Lausanne,<br />

where I still live, to continue my piano<br />

studies. My life in Europe has been<br />

very enriching and I have been able to<br />

interact with many different cultures<br />

and nations. It has also deepened my<br />

musical knowledge and allowed me to<br />

study at prestigious institutions under<br />

the tutelage of great masters of the piano.<br />

I married a French musician, who<br />

has an interest in language and other<br />

cultures, which has helped me see my<br />

own country and culture through different<br />

eyes and ultimately, to create<br />

stronger ties to Iran, and an appreciation<br />

of the life I have in Europe. This<br />

is why I have endeavoured to create<br />

several intercultural musical projects.<br />

Studying in Europe has allowed me to<br />

take an interest in the piano repertoire<br />

of my native country and I have created<br />

the project “<strong>10</strong>0 years of Iranian Piano<br />

Music.” I will record a total of four CD’s<br />

dedicated to this repertoire, which will<br />

be distributed by Harmonia Mundi.<br />

Living far away from your family and<br />

home country is difficult, because you<br />

often feel like you have to make an effort<br />

to be understood or accepted. There<br />

are good and bad sides to living away<br />

from your country of origin.<br />

Q: What has been your motto in<br />

life?<br />

A: Trust in yourself, before anyone else<br />

does. ■<br />

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