Parmela Attariwala – violinist/violist, composer and ethnomusicologist – has been described as “one of Canada’s most original and compelling artists”. She traverses genres from Mozart to the avant-garde, from fiddle to rock, from free improvisation to non-Western crossovers with virtuousic fluidity, and is equally comfortable performing acoustically in a concert hall or plugged-in in a club.
The creative process inspires all that Parmela does, whether it is performing composed music, creating or improvising her own music, mentoring young musicians, or undertaking academic researching on the arts in Canada.  She has been deeply influenced by dance—working extensively with choreographers as a composer, musician and movement artist—and by small-scale works for instruments and voices. In 1995, Parmela created the Attar Project as a vehicle to perform and create with musicians and artists from non-Western and non-classical forms.
Parmela has released three critically acclaimed recordings that defy the boundaries of genre:  Beauty Enthralled (1997), featuring tabla player Ravi Naimpally and ghazal singer Kiran Ahluwalia; Sapphire Skies (2003), which features her own compositions; and The Road Ahead … (2010), a collection of commissioned works for violin and tabla, performed with Montreal-based tabla player, Shawn Mativetsky

As an academic, Parmela has undertaken research on: multiculturalism, democracy and arts funding; improvisation in classical Western music pedagogy; and devotional poetry and music in medieval India.  In October 2018,. Parmela and equity consultant Soraya Peerbaye released, "Re-sounding the Orchestra: Relationships between Canadian orchestras, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour", a research paper  on equity and diversity commissioned by Orchestras Canada and funded by the Canada Council's "Leadership for Change" program.

Following 25 years in Toronto, Parmela is now based in Vancouver, B.C.

Two decades in

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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Ghosts of the Woolly Mammoths Roar

I can't quite believe that 2017 has come and gone! I spent a wonderful semester in Brandon last winter, experiencing (and enjoying!) what it was like to have a singular workplace, from which to pursue a multi-faceted job of lecturing…

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Omnivorous Listening Blog

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!

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…Read more

Spring, nature and movement

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…Read more

Recognition for "Under Milk Wood, an opera"

The highlight of 2014 for me was performing in the premiere of Under Milk Wood, an opera. John Metcalfe composed the music to text based upon Dylan Thomas' radio play of the same name. Under Milk Wood has been nominated…Read more

Previous events

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


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!


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



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.


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


Parmela Attariwala - 3rd lecture

R.D. Bell Hall, Queen Elizabeth II building, Brandon University, Brandon, MB

3rd lecture of my residency at Brandon University.


Parmela Attariwala, "The Effects of Multiculturalism on Publicly Funded Canadian Music"

R.D. Bell Hall, Queen Elizabeth II building, Brandon University, Brandon, MB

First lecture of my residency as Stanley Knowles Distinguished Visiting Professor at Brandon University.

Free, Open to the Public

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