Maryam Rahami To Play Nexus Arts Interplay

Nexus Art Venue have launched their Interplay series of concerts. Promoting Adelaide based artists from diverse cultures the series runs from 19th November 19 to 10th December. The Interplay program helps up and coming artists of culturally and diverse backgrounds helping them to learn industry practices and the concert series is a showcase of the year long program. Maryam Rahami an Iranian born Santur player who now lives in Adelaide, is one of the performers and had a chat to Hi FI Way.

You are performing at the Nexus Arts for the Interplay Series of Concerts. Are you excited to be performing?
Definitely! The whole program is special not just for me but all the artists. The team is really amazing because they teach you what you need to know about the event and they have put together workshops for us to learn. For me, it helped with finding my way around putting on a professional show. This is why its so special for me.

You had an opportunity to perform at OzAsia so this will be a little different for you?
Yes. Oz Asia was with the Asian community and I played traditional Iranian music but at this show I will be accompanied by Chilan percussionist and Australian Jazz vocalist Grace Mensforth and Fabian Hevia on percussion. I’m really looking forward to working with these artists. The whole combination is really exciting. It’s still based on traditional music but it will have added ‘colour’ to it. It’s different to what I played at OzAsia but still having that traditional sound.

This concert series gives artists like yourself to showcase your talents and give audiences an opportunity to hear music that is culturally diverse. How important is it for you to be performing at this concert series?
For me it’s an honour. I have a stage to play my traditional music of my country. Sometimes you don’t know if people will like it or if they connect with your music. People who come to Nexus Arts are open to hear new sounds and something that’s different. I’m really excited and happy.

Adelaide audiences are used to cultural music through Womadelaide so I’m sure they will be open to hear yourself and the other artists playing in the Nexus Arts for the Interplay Series of Concerts.
Sometimes I think ‘Will people like it.’ Its hard to know if people will connect with music from other cultures. I always think will the music be exciting for people who don’t have a background in my music so adding the cello and percussion makes it more exciting. Hopefully its more engaging for people who are listening. This is all new for me and I’m excited to see how it turns out.

The Santur is a very old and traditional instrument. You started playing the Santur at age 12. What made you want to learn how to play the Santur?
It was by accident! My Uncle had a Santur and it ended up at our house, so mt cousin and I thought we should try to play it. That was how I was introduced to the Santur but my love for traditional music came from my dad’s influence. He would always paly traditional music in our house and was really passionate about it. When I was 12 years old, I started to play the Santur and had lessons to learn how to play it properly. It wasn’t until I was about 18 or 19 years old that my love for it really started. I was studying physics at the time and thought this isn’t what I wanted to do in life. I finished my studies but didn’t pursue that avenue and that’s when I decided to take the Santur and music more seriously as a profession.

Its certainly a very old and interesting instrument.
When I was in Wollongong with my brother, I would play the Santur and people would come up to me and say that they had a similar instrument in their country. There are similar instruments around the world like the Santur and each country has adapted it to suit their music. They may sound or look a little different but its such an old instrument and it’s still being played today.

What made you come to Adelaide? What made you come to Australia?
My brother was studying at Wollongong Universitybecause we convinced my dad to immigrate to Australia. We used to travel a lot and in Iran there was too much stress and thought Australia was a good safe country. We came to Australia on a business visa and ran a business for 2 years. It was hard. English was our second language and it was a second culture where everything was new and on top of that we had to run a business. It was a stressful time and we’ve been here three years and we are super proud of what we achieved. We had to start from the beginning and gain everyone’s respect. It was such a hard process but a lovely process. It was such a huge thing to do in my life but I loved it. I’ve Australia and Adelaide. There are so many things to love about it! I appreciate it all.

What can audiences expect when you perform at the Interplay Series of Concerts?
Whenever I’ve played, I’ve had a structure. I’ve played the more traditional way I’m supposed to play but with this show I’m ready to change it up a bit more and be me! It’s still a traditional show but I’ve made some changes and added modern element to it with the addition of the two other performers. I’m excited to see how it goes and hope people like it!

Interview by Anastasia Lambis

Interplay Live 2021 featuring Maryam Rahmani + Elizabeth Ruyi is on at Nexus Arts Venue On Friday 26 November.

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