Summer Issue 10 of the Opinion Leaders Newspaper



“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


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


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


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


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-


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


A: Trust in yourself, before anyone else

does. ■

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