a new project

First show, July 15, 2021 8pmEST, 5pm PST

First show, July 15, 2021 8pmEST, 5pm PST

musicking in the time of pandemic


I am a violinist, an ethnomusicologist, a composer, and a music educator. 

I have been mesmerized by sound for as long as I can remember; by the inflections of language and the sounds of musical instruments. Whether listening to sound or making it, I am captivated by its power to affect us emotionally and physiologically.

The violin is my creative centre, an instrument that has kept me spellbound  since I first saw one being played on television when I was two. I think of the violin as my first language. It is my expressive language and my athletic field. 

The peculiar social circumstances of my childhood deeply influenced the way I understand music. Ours was the anomalous brown family living in a 'white' Canadian community. My parents enjoyed hosting parties, and accompanied the fusion meals they served their guests with the East Meets West fusion albums of the ‘70s. It's no surprise that my creative happy place lies in fusing disparate ideas and musics, and in crossing the lines between artistic disciplines. I especially love the challenge of working with non-Western rhythm (especially tabla, as featured on my three albums); and of being choreographed. Yes, I dance and play simultaneously - and no, I’ve never dropped my violin while diving into a lunge, even if I want you to think I might! 

You can see more photos of my choreographic work


What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a sitar?
India? Something exotic? Meditation?
We don’t always think about how music holds subconscious meaning, especially sound without words. Visit my
 Research page and check out my blog posts (below) if you'd like to know about my research. My focus over the past decade has been equity in Canadian music (particularly the heritage institutions--orchestras, opera companies, conservatories and music faculties). I have also researched the role of music in devotion, and the complex social responsibility of community music school teaching. 


I have taught music—violin, viola, fiddle, classical theory, and jazz theory for non-jazzers—for a very long time. I became my violin teacher’s assistant at the age of 17. Over the years, I've acquired a good toolkit of teaching strategies and I love passing on what I know about music.
To learn more about what I  offer, please visit my Teaching page.



As of June, 2019, my home base is Vancouver, British Columbia, the city that has been tugging at my heartstrings for as long as I can remember.


PS. Call me “Doc” if you want to, but be aware that mine is a humanities Ph.D. The realm of hospitals, emergency medicine, engineering, and aircraft belongs to the other Dr. Attariwalas in my family.

Or you could just call me Parmela (with an “r”).


Wondering how to pronounce my name? 
 It sounds like:
Pahr'mullah Atahr'ee wah la

or for Indo-European linguists:
Pār'malā Atārīwālā


Reflections on viral change (February 6, 2021)


Feb, 2021

The last time I boarded a flight was just over a year ago. It was my fourth return trip between Toronto and Vancouver, since (ostensibly) having moved from Ontario ten months before. Everything indicated that this might be…

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"Re-sounding the Orchestra" live! (June 6, 2019)

"Re-sounding the Orchestra", the research report commissioned by Orchestras Canada and co-authored by Soraya Peerbaye and myself has been officially released today. 

The report is based on 16 months of research, including interviews and roundtables with more than 40 people…

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Against Nature - 5 star review! (May 26, 2019)

Having traversed this extraordinary country two months ago in order to make a new home on its west coast, late spring finds me back in Toronto. I'm here for a remounting of James Kudelka, Alex Poch-Goldin and James Rolfe's extraordinary--and…

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Two decades in (January 4, 2019)

Hard to believe that we're two decades into the second millennium.  And twenty-five years since I landed in Toronto, intending only to kill the length of time necessary to renew my visa to the UK ... and perhaps make a…

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Omnivorous Listening Blog (May 22, 2017)

I am back in Toronto after a wonderful winter semester sojourn at Brandon University. And really, the winter wasn't so bad. It was actually a relief to go through a winter of sunny, cold days and clean air instead of…

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Hello, Brandon! (January 11, 2017)

Winter 2017 finds me in beautiful, snowy Brandon, Manitoba as the Stanley Knowles Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy. What can I say? It's my dream gig: thinking about and conducting research on policy, social justice, equity and music, plus…

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Spring, nature and movement (May 9, 2016)

Spring has finally arrived in Toronto. After a mild winter, I'd been looking forwards to a long, lovely spring; but no. Winter decided to show up after all: in April!

Under the superficial layer of snow and frozen grass, life…

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