Lily Kharazzi is an ethnomusicologist, arts administrator and traditional arts advocate who has spent decades supporting artists and art makers. Lily will be moderating a discussion with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, Houman Pourmehdi and Pirayeh Pourafar on Sunday, Sept 30th at 1:15pm, prior to the 2pm performance of Noor at Z Space.
CDI Communications Intern Shruti Pai interviewed Lily Kharazzi about her experience and her thoughts about art and collaborations.
Q: Why is ethnomusicology inspiring for you?
Lily Kharazzi (LK): The field of what we call “world music” is really interesting because when I think about people organizing sound or any kind of aesthetic pursuit according to their culture, we have before us this incredible treasure. And it’s a treasure of mankind because the music and the creation of music is such a window into human creativity and when we classify it and put it into cultural expression, you have a sense of a collective window into what makes for beauty, what makes for sadness, what makes for some of the most universal and deepest of human emotion. So the study of ethnomusicology, it’s not just that it’s also the ingenuity of sound, which can be very scientific and can be very mathematical.
Q: What did you learn from your work with the Alliance for California Traditional Arts?
LK: It has been a great privilege to work with ACTA through these years, to have a real window into this very diverse and large state of the union. So what I think I most treasure is really the values that ACTA gets into, to look and uphold and value cultural expressions of the diversity that’s here, and that can be from the original peoples of California, our Native Americans to more recent immigrants, and that there’s a place for everyone and hopefully we will continue to be a place for everyone in this really abundant state.
Q. What discussion are you opening for Noor?
LK: I’m really interested in the concept of “Noor” from the perspectives of both Iranian classical music and Indian classical music, and the concept of light, of clarity, and the manifestation of how that’s expressed. I’d like to hear from the musicians and from the audience who have a concept of how powerful this word is, just exactly what the concept of “Noor” means to them in their practice.
Q. What do you think the audience has to gain from Noor?
LK: It’s very hard to predict what anyone can get from encountering an art expression, and for people who do or do not have a context of classical music there’s something you could get just from letting something envelop you totally and that means to close your eyes and to know something that perhaps you’re not expecting to feel, that might be a very important outcome. I think the audience can traverse their own internal journey as well as being really satisfied with the interaction of the musicians that are both precise but also have an ability to improvise, and that’s kind of an electricity that happens, the potential to experience that is very high with this concert.
Q. Why do you think the collaboration of different arts and different cultures is important?
LK: I think this goes back to our supporting of diverse and distinct styles of music. What can reach across is the excellence of both traditions. They certainly can speak way beyond your own particular ethnicity or cultural community. And these collaborations, they speak to each other but they come from a place of mastery, it’s not a superficial conversation. I’m not going to say “music is the universal language,” because that’s not always the case. What I think it has the capacity to do is reach some place that we hope to touch the human heart.