Amir Farsi (BM ’16, Flute) likes to ruminate. From March until August 2020, alone in his New Haven, Connecticut, apartment, Farsi immersed himself in flute practice and his thoughts.
A weekly Zoom book club with friends to discuss works such as Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares, Descartes, and more gave him lots to ponder. “It opened up creative doorways for me,” says Farsi, who earned an MM from Yale School of Music in 2019. “I got out of my head by getting in my head in a positive way.”
He also thought about his next step, since just before the pandemic he had turned down a fellowship with the Southbank Sinfonia, a chamber orchestra for emerging young professionals in London. Instead, Farsi applied for the Carnegie Hall Ensemble Connect Fellowship and was chosen as one of nine Fellows—and the only flutist. The three-year Connect fellowship, which began in fall 2020, has deepened Farsi’s newfound approach to process.
“The downtime allowed me to think about things in other ways,” Farsi says. “Before, I would never have viewed myself as a creative person. I don’t compose music, and I can’t comfortably improvise, but [Fellows] do an interactive performance. It’s exciting to create a through line and connect the dots for the audience musically.”
For 2020 and through early 2021, the Fellows gave online concerts. Farsi eagerly returned to (safe) in-person concerts when he moved to New York City in spring 2021. That May, it was a concert at a transitional facility for incarcerated people that best underscored for him the program’s mission to connect with a community beyond traditional Carnegie Hall patrons: “At the end of our talk, a man stood up and said that he had never heard classical music before, but that he hopes to see us perform at Carnegie Hall,” Farsi recalls.
Each Fellow is a teaching artist in New York City Public Schools. Farsi had no prior classroom teaching experience, and the all-remote classes until fall 2021 stretched him. “Part of the program is to ask questions you don’t have the answers to,” he says of his work at PS234 in Astoria, Queens. “They’re doing music for enrichment, not a career. I try to give them tools to have more fun with music.”
Farsi, an Iranian and Pakistani American, loves working with a diverse student body. “I see part of me reflected in them,” he says. “The fellowship is an opportunity to work with communities that better reflect the country as a whole.”
He’s ruminating again on his next step. This past summer, Farsi was a festival artist at Music@Menlo and is excited about upcoming Carnegie Hall concerts as a Carnegie Connects Fellow. He’s also considering a DMA. “For me,” he says, “music is this ride of yearning for things, going for things, and then constantly coming up to forks in the road.”
– Sarah Achenbach