American composer

Iranian-American composer Sahba Aminikia on the healing power of music

When the Iranian-American composer Sahba Aminikia was 19, he left Iran for Russia to study at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory under the direction of Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko, a former pupil of the famous classical music composer Dmitry Shostakovich. .

Aminikia says he admires Shostakovich so much that he was inspired to take up classical music.

“He also lived there under a very totalitarian government, and that effect is very evident in his music,” Aminikia said. “It’s the music that comes from the pain.”

In 2006, Aminikia immigrated to the United States as a refugee and began studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. But even as he launched his career in America, his music often centered around Iran.

Aminikia wrote music about the little things he missed in the country where he was born. He also wrote about the protests taking place in Tehran after the 2009 elections and experienced incorporating the real sounds of mourning and uprising into his songs.

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Aminikia had to choose between her passion for music and her homeland. He left Iran due to religious persecution linked to his Baha’i faith.

The religion, founded in 1844 in Iran, teaches the unity of all the religions of the world – it focuses on the defense of racial unity, gender equality, universal education and the harmony of science and religion.

The 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the US-backed regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and replaced it with an Islamic republic ruled by Ayatollah Khomeini. Under the new regime, Baha’i believers could not practice their faith in public, hold government jobs, collect pensions, or attend higher education.

Aminikia’s father and other former teachers founded the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, BIHE, an alternative university that operates in people’s homes to provide educational opportunities for Bahá’í believers. It was at BIHE that Aminikia obtained her associate degree in music.

Aminikia has built a successful life around music and art, but he has had an unhappy relationship with his country. Aminikia’s latest collaboration with the Kronos Quartet is called “Nasrin Dream”, inspired by the story of jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

“We meant that these raindrops, however small and insignificant they were, would eventually create a rainstorm and wash away that part of humanity.”

Aminikia believes that suffering can inspire true art.

That’s why music exists, Aminika said, adding, “It’s a natural, organic response our body has to this pain. Music that speaks to the soul comes from the soul. And the soul that’s full of pain, it would always sound better. And we know that deep down as musicians. “

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