Student Spotlight: Mehrpouya Daneshvar

The clarinetist from Iran talks about discovering a love for Iranian classical music and how coming to Berklee has allowed him to expand his style by exploring jazz and Latin music.

March 6, 2024

What’s it like to study at Berklee? Our Student Spotlight series asks current students all about their Berklee experience—what they’re learning in class, what kinds of projects they’re involved in onstage or behind the scenes, how they recharge, and of course, what they’re listening to. In this edition, get to know clarinetist Mehrpouya Daneshvar, a third-semester contemporary writing and production (CWP) major from Zanjan, Iran.

You can watch Mehrpouya perform on March 13 in Mediterranean New Roots, the spring 2024 concert produced by the Mediterranean Music Institute.

Tell us about your path to Berklee. What made you decide to come here?

I grew up in a family that loved art a lot. Even though my mom and dad weren't musicians, I started my music adventure when I was just 4, thanks to my aunts and uncles. I fell in love with the kamancheh, a traditional Iranian string instrument, and really got into Iranian classical and folk music with some amazing teachers like Ardeshir Kamkar, Ehsan Zabihifar, and Mehdi Bagheri. I've always been curious about all kinds of music and didn't want to just stick to one type, even though Iranian classical music is where I started.

When I turned 18, I went to a clarinet camp led by Hüsnü Şenlendirici in Turkey. Playing there made me realize how much I connect with the clarinet—it felt like it was meant for me. With guidance from my mentor, Kayhan Kalhor, I started blending Iranian music with the clarinet, bringing back a style that had been forgotten in Iran for a long time.

I chose Berklee because I wanted to really get into jazz and explore different genres at the same time—especially to play with Middle Eastern musicians and collaborate with Latin musicians, where I could bring my own style into the mix. Berklee is the best place where I can have my Iranian music roots, connect with folks from all kinds of musical worlds, and broaden my horizons without any limits. I truly believe music brings people together, no matter where they're from. Learning more about music means I can share more with people from all over the world. Berklee is where I can follow my dream, grow my passion for music, and connect with others everywhere.

What's been your favorite class so far, and what has it taught you?

My best classes include my private instruction with Sarpay Özçağatay, where I'm learning jazz improvisation, which is my main goal at Berklee. Another favorite is Arranging 2 with Jeff Perry, where Professor Jeff teaches us how to write for horn sections. He makes the class both fun and engaging, truly one of the best classes I've had. Additionally, my English class with Pratt Bennett was life-changing. I learned so much about teaching, English, and psychology.

What's a project you've worked on since coming to Berklee that you've been especially excited about?

At Berklee, I've been involved in many projects across different genres, which have been incredible experiences for me. However, the most significant project I participated in was with Christiane Karam. Professor Karam trusted me and included me in a Middle Eastern fusion concert, where I had the opportunity to perform with renowned artists like the New York Gypsy All-Stars, Associate Professor Giorgi Mikadze, Keita Ogawa, and Peter Slavov. That night and project were the largest I've ever been a part of.

I also have my own trio named Klemer, where we compose our own original music. My bandmates are Klara Poznachowska from Poland and Lucas Philips from the US. This project is the most exciting for me. We focus on world music, and every composition is a collaboration that combines the knowledge of all three of us.

Mehrpouya's Top-Five Favorite Songs Right Now 

1. "The B Tune," Edgar Meyer, Béla Fleck, and Zakir Hussain.

This tune amazingly represents how musicians from different cultures can communicate with each other through the language of music, and the combination of instruments is a masterpiece.

2. "Villa Plameras," Miguel Zenón

This is a great example of Latin music and rhythms combined with jazz influences.

3. "The Astounding Eyes of Rita," Anouar Brahem

This is one of the best songs I have heard that combines Arab music with Western elements.

4. "Silent City," Kayhan Kalhor

A masterpiece by my mentor that can be connected with your soul immediately. And a great example of contemporary music influenced by Iranian classical music.

5. "Over Shadow Hill Way," Wayne Shorter

One of the greatest tunes I’ve heard.

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