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Following the sound
he house lights in the Hill
Auditorium dimmed, one
night in March two years ago,
and the audience quited. The antici-
pation was palpable, and as we sat,
we all knew we were about to see
Then, her violin and bow in her
left hand, holding up the long skirt
of her beautiful strapless dress
with her right, the celebrated vir-
tuoso, Anne-Sophie Mutter walked
onstage to tumultuous applause.
It wasn't the first time I heard
Anne-Sophie's violin, though it
was the first time I heard it in per-
son. Five years ago I was living in
my hometown of Tehran studying
music. If you had told me then that
I would be sitting a few yards away
from Anne-Sophie Mutter I would
I heard about Anne-Sophie for
the first time when I was 15. A friend
of mine loaned me four CDs, record-
ings of seven of the greatest violin
concerti. On the cover, was a glam-
orous picture of a young, beautiful
woman in a dark-green strapless
dress. She was playing the violin
- her face the picture of concen-
tration. With her long brown hair
gently blown back, it looked as if she
lived in a different world.
At the time, I didn't know much
about music, but I was so intrigued
by those recordings that I listened
to them over and over again. They
were magical and captivating. Her
flawless intonation and warm sound
were unique, and I could sense it,
even at 15. It seemed to me Anne-
Sophie was an example of a perfect
woman. She was beautiful, skillful
and accomplished. I decided to try
to be like her in every way possible.
I was taking both violin and piano
lessons at the time. All my music
teachers told me I was talented. I
learned quickly, I had a good ear and
I was expressive. Just a few years,
I thought, and I'd end up like the
beautiful virtuoso. I only needed to
get older and learn to play difficult
pieces, and then somebody like Her-
bert Von Karajan, the famous Aus-
trian conductor, would discover me
and take me with him to Germany to
play with the Berlin Philharmonic.
But as I learned more about music, I
started to realize it wasn't so easy.
I managed to take lessons from
the few good teachers who were
in residency in Tehran. In college,
I majored in violin performance,
even though I knew it was radical
to pursue western classical music
in Iran. The government tended to
be unsupportive of western culture
- they considered it invasive. But I
didn't want to spend my time doing
In my third year of college, as
soon as I had the opportunity to
apply to music schools abroad, I did,
and was accepted by the University
of Michigan. I moved to America,
and my life changed radically. The
past two years have been the most
difficult I can remember. Being far
away from home and family, adjust-
ing to a new culture and learning a
new language has been challenging.
But I've never regretted my deci-
sion. I am that much closer to being
Sitting in the theater that night
two years ago the sound was heav-
enly beautiful. When the concerto
ended, Hill Auditorium was silent
for a moment before it erupted into
applause. A standing ovation seemed
like the least we could do.
During intermission, I saw my
friend, Suzanne, the head usher,
who I had begged before to take me
backstage with her. She grabbed my
hand and asked me to follow her. We
found our way through the crowd,
and in a few seconds, we were at the
There was Anne-Sophie, right
in front of us. As Suzanne walked
up to congratulate her, I watched
quietly. She was about my height,
and she had a small, skinny figure.
Her charming, bony face slightly
showed her age, and she looked
older than she had in the pictures
I'd seen before.
When it was my turn, I took a
deep breath and introduced myself.
I shook her hand and told her how
much I enjoyed her performance. I
haltingly explained I had listened to
her music since I was young.
"You've inspired meano much that
I've come here all the way from Iran
to study music," I said.
She looked surprised. And then
she embraced me in a motherly
"I'm happy for you," she said.
"I hope that you get to learn a lot
more and that you can learn to enjoy
music more. Good luck to you!"
Back home, where classical music
concerts were not even publicly
broadcaston TV, I could only dream
about a place where being a violinist
or pianist was a celebrated profes-
sion. The encounter was a kind of
vindication, and her words were an
affirmation that I was in the right
As Suzanne and I left the green
room, I let my tears free.
- Sahar Nouri is a Music School
senior majoring in piano performance,
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