Getting to Know Schaghajegh Nosrati

September 14, 2021

professional portrait of Schaghajegh Nosrati wind blowing in hair staring off to the side - get to know

Our first concert of the 2021 Rising Stars season is this Sunday, September 19, at 4 PM ET! It features German Pianist Schaghajegh Nosrati and, in order to prepare for her concert, we asked Ms. Nosrati to answer a few questions to get to know her better. Here’s what she had to say:

It’s been a while since you were last in the United States—is there anything you’re looking forward to doing while you’re here for your visit?
Schaghajegh Nosrati: I‘ve never been to this particular region, so I am extremely excited at the prospect of seeing new landscapes (for example, Lake Michigan) and meeting interesting people! I would like to visit a few museums, if there is enough time. But I don‘t want to plan too much in advance, either—it often seems to me that the most impressive situations occur in the most unexpected moments. I like the idea of leaving some time for strolling and having random encounters.

You have an excellent reputation as an interpreter of Bach’s music and you’re playing the Goldberg Variations for your September 19 concert. What drew you to Bach originally and how did you choose this program to perform at The Gilmore?
SN: For me, Bach is the greatest composer of all time. There is something incredibly timeless and universal to his music which speaks to all of us, no matter how much you know about music and what kind of person you are. I have always been extremely fascinated by the complexity of Bach’s music and its immaculate craftsmanship, but also by its elegance and beauty in terms of proportion and order. I perceive Bach’s music as being emotional without ever becoming sentimental. All these qualities are inherent in his Goldberg Variations, an absolute masterpiece which I started to learn in my early twenties and have been playing since then. When I was invited to perform at The Gilmore, I had the immediate idea to focus on Bach in this program, and the more I thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed to me to play the Goldberg Variations, not least because it is a multifarious piece which allows the performer to present many different sides of Bach’s music.

You have served as a teaching assistant to Sir András Schiff at the Barenboim-Said-Academy in Berlin since 2020. What is something that you’ve learned from him over the past year?
SN: There are numerous things, but if I had to pick a few ones, it would be:

  1. The learning process is never finished. Both as artists and as human beings, we learn for life.
  2. There is a significant difference between knowledge and understanding. We should strive for the latter.
  3. Only a generous character can produce generous art. 

You’ve performed concerts around the world. What is your favorite performance venue and why?
SN: This is a tricky question! I don’t think I can make a decision–every concert and venue feels special to me. Sometimes, you are struck in awe when entering a hall with a long musical tradition: I had this experience last time when I played in the Musikverein Wien. The presence of highly admired musicians and composers of the past like Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms was almost palpable. I guess this is why I felt particularly inspired on that evening. But I also think that every venue and every concert has the potential to become spiritually uplifting and unforgettable. What brings a musical performance to life is the communication between the artist, the work, and the audience. Especially the “chemistry” between the artist and the audience has a significant impact on the quality of the performance.

If you had any advice for young pianists who want to change their passion into a career, what would it be?
SN: Good things need time, and as a young pianist, you should give yourself enough time for the learning and maturing process. But it seems that today’s fast pace puts an enormous pressure on young musicians to build up a career at a very early stage and to spend too much time on social media. I am not against social media in general, but we have to be careful in the way we use them. We only have a limited amount of time, and the more time we spend on social media, the less we have for thinking and for devoting ourselves to our passion. Of course, you have to make a living, also as a musician, and therefore we need enough opportunities to perform. But having a career should not be the ultimate goal. I would rather consider it as a side effect of what you are actually striving for, which is becoming a better musician and a better person. 

Thank you to Schaghajegh Nosrati for her candor.  We hope you’ll attend her recital in-person or watch the livestream this Sunday, September 19, at 4 PM ET. Get your ticket today!

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