Raha Javanfar is a multi-faceted artist, born in Iran and raised in Toronto. A classically trained violinist with a passion for roots music, she has toured extensively with Tafelmusik as a projections designer and production assistant. She plays fiddle in the Western swing band The Double Cuts, participates regularly in Soulpepper Theatre’s concert series, and teaches music privately and lighting design at Ryerson University. We are thrilled that she will be moderating our online Tafel Talks: Music as Resistance panel discussion, on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 7pm EST.
In advance of next week's event, we asked Raha a few questions about what she's looking forward to about this panel, and how she's been navigating the pandemic as an artist.
Tafelmusik: What makes you excited about your role as moderator for Music as Resistance?
Raha: I'm really looking forward to this event. I think it's such a vast topic with so many avenues that can be explored.
The panelists have such diverse backgrounds and different areas of expertise, and I'm excited to hear from them as I'm expecting to learn a lot about this fascinating topic. As I've been thinking about it recently, I've realized that there are the 'obvious' ways that music comes up as resistance—teenagers gravitating towards new sounds as a means of rebellion, and protest songs becoming anthems for revolutions—but there's so much more to explore beyond all that, and I'm excited to go there on December
Tafelmusik: What has it been like to be an artist during the pandemic? Would you say being an artist during COVID could be called its own form of resistance?
Raha: The pandemic so far has been a roller coaster for me. I spent the first several weeks feeling quite depressed and uninspired. Unlike other musicians who started pumping out music that spoke to the times, performing virtual concerts, and pivoting to embrace the possibilities that come with these restrictions, I felt a deep resistance to this thing which was quickly being dubbed ‘the new normal.’
Living in isolation and without a live experience of the arts is not normal. I guess for me, the act of resistance has been my refusal to quickly and willingly bend my style in order to fit into this new virtual way of doing everything. Nothing... nothing... I can't stress it enough... nothing replaces live music. And so, there's been a part of me that just wants to embrace the void rather than fill it. I want to mourn the loss of live music as we knew it rather than replace it. Having said that, by no means do I wish to discredit the many creative and innovative artistic endeavours that are a result of the pandemic. Some musicians have truly stepped up to bring music to starved audiences in new and different ways and that is truly wonderful. Others have focused on writing and recording (my own roller coaster I referred to is definitely starting to launch me in that direction too!), and I do think it will be wonderful to look back on the time capsule of the pandemic and see what treasures were born of it.