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Sahba Aminikia & Pınar Demiral: Nasrin's Dream
Kronos Quartet

Sahba Aminikia & Pınar Demiral: Nasrin's Dream

Composers Sahba Aminikia and Aleksandra Vrebalov speak of their involvement with the Flying Carpet Children’s Festival, an annual arts festival, founded and directed by Aminikia, that takes place each summer along the Syrian-Turkish border. In an environment of intense stress where youth face a magnitude of challenges, Aminikia, Vrebalov, and an international team of volunteer artists work together to bring inclusive, safe, and engaging educational and cultural activities that aid in directing expressions of trauma and in navigating the perils of a transitional state of belonging. The result is an empowering humanistic exchange marked by collective transformations. This event is part of the 2021-22 KHC and National Endowment for the Humanities Colloquium, “Incarceration, Transformation & Paths to Liberation during the Holocaust and Beyond.” The event is organized by the KHC in partnership with the Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC) at Queensborough Community College (QCC) and is co-sponsored by the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College; the Ray Wolpow Institute at Western Washington University; the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University; and the Department of Music at QCC. For more information about the KHC, please visit:


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Updated: Feb 28

Host Pier Carlo Talenti interviews artists who are shaking up the status quo to learn how they are reinventing their fields and building a new landscape for the arts.

Sahba Aminikia is an Iranian American composer, musician and educator based in San Francisco whose own musical training spanned three continents. He first studied composition in the city of his birth, Tehran, and then relocated to Russia to attend the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. After emigrating as a refugee to San Francisco in 2006, Sahba then earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


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Organized by Taro Hattori, Senior Adjunct, Individualized Studies Program

On Monday, November 15, 2021, Sahba Aminikia, an Iranian-American contemporary music composer, artistic director, performer, and educator discussed how his life-experiences of personal, cultural, and political conflicts are transformed into his work and how music in general helps us live through challenging times. The talk is part of a course “Dissonance - Music and Conflict,” one of the Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio courses at California College of the Arts, which helps students incorporate our experiences of conflicts in our creative making practices learning from how music transcends borders and unites us regardless of the conflicts that exist. Born in post-revolutionary wartime in Iran, Sahba Aminikia was raised during a newly configured democracy that evolved from mass-executions, war, and violence into a society that—through the use of the internet and technology—challenges the current political and social infrastructure. He has been trained in musical composition under Iranian pianists Nikan Milani, Safa Shahidi, and Mehran Rouhani. He later relocated to Russia and studied at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory under Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko. His musical compositions have been widely performed around the world by contemporary classical ensembles, orchestras, and bands including Kronos, International Contemporary Ensemble, Carnegie Hall Ensemble Connect, San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble. Aminikia is the founder and the artistic director of Flying Carpet Festival, a performing arts festival for children in war zones. This event was funded by an endowment gift to support The Deborah and Kenneth Novack Creative Citizens Series at CCA, an annual series of public programs focused on creative activism. The 2021–2022 Creative Citizens Series will focus on four pillars of the Communal Flower, a model for understanding communality in the ancient philosophy and daily practice of various Indigenous nations in southern Mexico: land, communal responsibility, assembly and joy. This event explored joy.