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It’s been almost a month since the National Arts Centre’s Canada Performs Livestream event. The initiative provided a $700,000 short-term relief fund for Canadian artists and authors through a series of online performances. It was launched by Facebook Canada on April 30th to help ease the financial strain caused by the closure of performance venues related to COVID-19, and to lift the spirits of Canadians during the crisis.

Among the selected was Montreal-based musician Amir Amiri. See his performance below.

#CanadaPerformsNational Arts Centreplease like and follow me @https://www.facebook.com/AmirAmirimusic/

Posted by Amir Amiri on Thursday, April 30, 2020

Santur player, composer, and cultural inventor Amir Amiri has spent his decades-long career  exploring  the  limits  of  his  music,  and  keeps  coming to the conclusion that there are none. As a santur player, Amir  seeks to bring this ancient instrument into the musical conversations of our time, engaging across borders and transcending genres. Dazzlingly virtuosic and with a keen imagination, Amir creates an enchanting and  unique musical universe with every performance.

Born in Tehran, Iran, Amir has called Canada home for the past two decades. Since arriving in Canada, he has welcomed the opportunity to work with western classical musicians Bob Becker, Edgar Meyer and David Takeno, and has also collaborated with Hugh Fraser, Darcy Phillip Gray, Mike Murly, John Stetch and Bill Cahn.

Many say that mathematics is the universal language of the world but I’ll argue and say that music is. Amir found rhythm to be a key to translating this language and understanding a more global approach to music.

When he first arrived in Canada, the majority of his musical interactions were with western classical percussionists. It was only through spending time with these musicians and studying with the masters was he introduced to different genres of rhythm and percussion. 

“It seems that people from different places interpret the same rhythmic cycle so differently. I believe that this phenomenon is the result of the various human environments that define a cultures’ rhythmic point of reference.”

Amir Amiri
Amir Amiri performing “Chahar Mezrab Bidad” at Sofar Montréal on October 20, 2019.

When mastered, the santur can take you back to a time you have never been before. Amir has a way of combining the santur sound and other classical instruments to create music for your ears. Watch the video below.

Rag Desh with Olivier Marin – Viola

My goal is for the student to come to an understanding of the function of rhythm in the santur as a percussive instrument. 

Amir Amiri
MOODY AMIRI – Procession with Richard Moody – Viola

My teaching philosophy has strong roots in rhythm and how it behaves in different musical situations. I have a desire to understand the harmonic patterns and activities that appear in music as a result of rhythmic modulations.

Amir Amiri

For their Canada 150 programming in 2017, Amir was invited to Ottawa’s National Arts Center as Artistic Director for the sold-out program Sounds of Persia: Canada’s New Music Masters. He has founded several Quebec-based ensembles including his santur and jazz double bass duo Perséides and the Persian-influenced groups Ensemble Kamaan and the Amir Amiri Quartet, among others. 

Amir has worked as a percussionist and composer throughout Canada and has been commissioned by CBC radio. He was awarded the 2003 CBC Artist of the Year from the Galaxie Rising Stars Program and The Betty Mitchell Best Composition and Sound Design award.

To learn more about Amir Amiri, go to amiramiri.com and follow him online.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmirAmirimusic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amiramiri

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/amiramiri

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmGdxWT_BELtQfpaiiZ_utw