Exclusive Interview with Saman Shahi
How would you describe your musical style Saman?
My music draws on Iranian traditional music, Western Classical music especially the early to mi 20th century, Minimalism and also perhaps a touch of Musical Theatre and Progesssive Rock.
Can you list some composers/pianists who have influenced your music career?
I absolutely adore the turn of the century Russian composers: Shostakovich, Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Their music really shaped my early voice as a musician. Later on I became fascinated by Minimalist composers like John Adams, Steve Reich and Phillip Glass. Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Pocupine Tree were my guilty pleasures when no one was looking. I also adore the music of Hossein Alizadeh and Kayhan Kalhor who are both masters of the Iranian traditional music.
What did it feel like to be nominated for a Canadian Juno Award! ?
It felt deeply gratifying to be seen and recognized for all the hard work and grit I had put in. I also felt empowered that I was doing things right, and I need to trust my intuition, and keep going. Also the work that was nominated was really close to my heart so I was thrilled to see it receive such a huge acknowledgement.
Describe the music scene in your city, country, specifically for your genre of music.
I mainly work in classical contemporary music and in opera. There is a lot of activity in both of these genres in Toronto. There are many established and new musical ensembles, art organizations and collectives that put together performances of newly written chamber music or operas. Some examples are the Esprit Orchestra, Continuum Music, Loose Tea Music Theatre and so many more.
At what age did you realize that music was your calling?
I think I was around 10 or 11 when I would just sit in my room and listen to hours of film scores, and pretend play or conduct them in my own little world. It took another 4-5 years for me to take my first piano lesson. But by the time I had come to Canada in 2004, and had my first public performance in my high school concert, it really hit me; I really wanted to devote my life to music, and nothing more!
What are you currently working on right now?
Right now I am finishing up a 15 minute piece for 10 instruments that will be recorded by some of Canada’s most high-profile performers in the Spring. I am also working at the same time on a short choral piece that will be performed in Hungary in a few months. After that I will writing a piece for electric guitar and a percussion quartet, which I am excited for. I also do lots of freelancing as a conductor and pianist around town.
Is there a piece of music you have composed and released that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?
I think my piece “Another Coffee” must one of my favorites, and also a crowd favorite. It’s from a song cycle named “Orbit” for a tenor singer and piano. The poetry in this cycle draws on the uncertainties in life, and how everything is almost always murky. This particular poem just shows the continuity of another coffee, another day and the willingness to keep going. It’s quite beautiful, and I think I did a good job enhancing it with my music!
How have you evolved musically in the last 2 years, during these challenging times?
I certainly have! I had to adapt, and bring up my game with technology. I taught myself audio and video recording and editing, and was able to produce my own materials be it pieces of music or educational content for my YouTube Channel. I also had the time to do more research on musical styles I previously hadn’t dug into, and learned a great deal from them. I also believe that I became much more detailed and patient as a composer in my craft, and learned that I need to dedicate time for a worthwhile vision.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the music industry, who would that be?
I would love to collaborate with Stewart Copland because he is about as cool of a musician as anyone can get. He’s a multi-talented musician, and does anything under the sun.
What are your future plans Saman?
I would love my music to travel beyond the borders of Canada even more than it has up to now. I would like to have more opportunities of working with musicians in the USA and Europe, and explore music making with a variety of artists from all walks of life. In the same breath, I would like to further my career as a conductor, and work with more established orchestras around the country, and learn and grow.
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@samanshahi
End of Interview