One of our family friends was a violinist and ever since I was a baby, I was drawn to her playing. One of the first things I asked for Christmas at 3 years old was a toy violin, and after playing it so often I broke the plastic bow, I pretended to play it with a plastic ruler. My mom finally decided to take me to a music school when I was 5, and it was love at first sight. Whenever I did not want to practice, she would remind me it was my decision to play - teaching me about discipline while reminding me how deep my love for music was.
I am a research professor at USC, focusing on the area of health economics and studying how access to healthcare can be improved in the U.S. and abroad. I find it important to have leisure activities that are not work-related - it not only allows me to decompress, but also to spend more time in reflection and collaboration with other like-minded people. It is hard to imagine not having classical music in my life.
In an increasingly fragmented society, it seems to me that chamber music is an example of how people can come together in the pursuit of something beautiful. It requires us to give our time, talent and sometimes to make sacrifices, but the end result always brings a lot of joy. While not everyone needs to be a chamber musician, it is my hope that more and more people will support - and participate - in similar collaborations in the future, be it in the arts or other charitable causes.
I have always enjoyed chamber music and have played with numerous ensembles in Europe and the U.S. before. One of my friends from the Santa Monica Symphony, where I also play, introduced me to Zain, and it was a great surprise to learn that there was an open seat in the violin section. It's been fun to play with others who take music seriously yet also have incredibly rich lives outside of the arts.
Music, similar to other endeavors, requires a lot of commitment and may have its ups and downs. But if you know you are doing things with honesty, you will enjoy the process no matter what the final result is. If you are like many VCO members and have interests outside of the arts, do not be afraid to pursue them aside from music. It will give you more freedom, open new doors, and expand your horizons. If your goal is to be a professional musician, though, try to find a mentor you can rely on. At any rate, always make sure you enjoy what you are doing!
Updated August 2019