Welcome

Welcome!


I am a violinist and violist, an ethnomusicologist, and a music educator. It would be easier to say I was just one of those things; but that would be untrue. And too easy. I rarely take the easy way out of anything. 

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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 I’m listening to sound or making it, I never cease to be captivated by the power of music to affect me emotionally and physiologically, and to inspire me creatively. 

The violin is my creative centre. I have been enamoured with the instrument since I was about two years old, when I first saw one being played on television. By request, I received my first violin when I was three. I started playing it somewhere between speaking Punjabi and learning English, and as I no longer speak Punjabi, I think of the violin as my first language. It is my expressive language; my athletic field. As a teenager, I took the highs and lows of adolescence out on my violin (while my brother slammed tennis balls with his hockey stick into a makeshift net). 
Who knew Mendelssohn Concerto could be interpreted so many ways!


The peculiar social circumstances of my childhood deeply influenced the way I understand music. Ours was the anomalous brown family living in a white community (a peculiarity that probably no longer exists in today’s globalized Canada). My parents, who enjoyed hosting parties, accompanied the fusion meals they served their guests with the East Meets West fusion albums of the ‘70s. Not surprisingly, my creative happy place lies in crossing the lines between musical genre and artistic discipline. I especially love the challenge of working with non-Western rhythm (there is a lot of tabla on my three albums); and the challenge of being choreographed. Yes, I dance and play at the same time! (and no, I’ve never dropped my violin while diving into a lunge, even if I might want you to think I will!). 


You can see more photos of my choreographic work here.


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Quick!
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. This intrigues me intellectually. Visit my Academics page and check out my blog posts (below) if you'd like to know about my research. My recent focus has been equity in Canadian music. I’ve also done research on the role of music in devotion, and the social responsibility of community music school teaching. 


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Speaking of teaching ...
I have taught music—violin, viola, fiddle, classical theory, and jazz theory for non-jazzers—for a long, long time. How long? since I became my violin teacher’s assistant at the age of 17. Yes, perhaps I was a tad young, but I've acquired a good toolkit of teaching strategies since then and I love passing on what I know about music.

To learn more about my teaching, 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 military vehicles 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 the linguists:
Pār'malā Atārīwālā

 

"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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Previous events

May31

Against Nature

The Citadel

Citadel & Compagnie remounts "Against Nature", a dance-opera inspired by Huysen's book. choreography by James Kudelka libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin and music by James Rolfe

featuring Alex Dobson, Laurence Lemieux and Koren Thomas-Smith Attariwala-Reeves-Philcox piano trio

May30

Against Nature

The Citadel

Citadel & Compagnie remounts "Against Nature", a dance-opera inspired by Huysen's book. choreography by James Kudelka libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin and music by James Rolfe

featuring Alex Dobson, Laurence Lemieux and Koren Thomas-Smith Attariwala-Reeves-Philcox piano trio

May29

Against Nature

The Citadel

Citadel & Compagnie remounts "Against Nature", a dance-opera inspired by Huysen's book. choreography by James Kudelka libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin and music by James Rolfe

featuring Alex Dobson, Laurence Lemieux and Koren Thomas-Smith Attariwala-Reeves-Philcox piano trio

May24

Against Nature

The Citadel, 304 Parliament St., Toronto

Citadel & Compagnie remounts "Against Nature", a dance-opera inspired by Huysen's book. choreography by James Kudelka libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin and music by James Rolfe

featuring Alex Dobson and Laurence Lemieux

May23

Against Nature

The Citadel, 304 Parliament St., Toronto

Citadel & Compagnie remounts "Against Nature", a dance-opera inspired by Huysen's book. choreography by James Kudelka libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin and music by James Rolfe

featuring Alex Dobson and Laurence Lemieux

May22

Against Nature

The Citadel, 304 Parliament St., Toronto

Citadel & Compagnie remounts "Against Nature", a dance-opera inspired by Huysen's book. choreography by James Kudelka libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin and music by James Rolfe

featuring Alex Dobson and Laurence Lemieux

Parmela Attariwala, presented by NUMUS

Kitchener, Ontario

I will be performing three of my solo works for choreographed violin, including "Piercing Embrace" and "Frank" (choreographed by Gitanjali Kolanad), and a new work (choreographed by Kelly Arnsby).

Against Hungry Listening--Listening and Love

Agnes Etherington Arts Centre, 36 University Ave, Kingston, Ontario

Part of a listening series connected to the exhibition "Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts" that challenges the ubiquitous consumption of music, including notable composers, musicians, scholars and artists discussing de-colonial, queer, feminist, black and Indigenous-specific forms of listening. This is a free and evolving event series.

I will be creating music (in real-time) to Peter Morin's video scores, "Listening and Love"

For more information see https://agnes.queensu.ca/event/details/against-hungry-listening/?platform=hootsuite

Jan20

Esprit Orchestra

Koerner Hall, Toronto

"Constellations" with music by Toshio Hasakawa, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Claude Vivier, and Christopher Goddard

This concert will mark my 25th year playing with Esprit Orchestra; my first concert having taken place in February 1994. How time flies!

May31

Orchestras Canada IDEA declaration, background research and reflections; presented by Soraya Peerbaye and Parmela Attariwala

Calgary

May19

Challenging equity in Canadian orchestras: Is Change Possible?--Muscan Conference Paper

Grant MacKewan University--Downtown campus, Edmonton

Canadian University Music Society 2018 Conference. "Challenging equity in Canadian orchestras" draws upon research undertaken for Orchestras Canada through 2017-2018. In this paper, I will problematize the ethical issues confronting Canadian orchestras in a post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission era; most significantly, the perpetuation of cultural colonialism and exoticism in Western art music's advocacy and marketing strategies. These are issues that will also affect, and ultimately, disrupt the prerogatives of Western classical music's training institutions in Canada.

Nov29

The Brownies

The Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave., Toronto

The Brownies are: Nicole Rampersaud, trumpet Nilan Perera, guitar Parmela Attariwala, violin with guest Rakesh Tewari, drums

It's been years since we last shared our sepia tones with Toronto... $10 or pwyc

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