It was when Bahareh Poureslami joined the choir that she found her true calling. “In high school I played in band and I got really interested in music but when I joined my choir in grade 9 that’s when I really got into singing,” she said.Poureslami has since gone on to become an award-winning soprano, having given solo performances with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and been featured on a Juno nominated album. On Thursday (Feb. 13) Poureslami, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in voice performance, will be making her first ever performance in Nanaimo at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church as part of Opera Nanaimo’s Opera Valentines concert.
“It’s always great singing for new audiences so I am really excited meeting new people,” Poureslami said.Before entering high school, the soprano was hard involved with music or singing. “I didn’t grow up in a musical family,” Poureslami said. “My sister took piano lessons but she kind of stopped everything, she did piano and clarinet, so my parents kind of gave up on me as well. They never put me in lessons because they didn’t think I would be interested.”
As Poureslami made her way through school, she became a member of the British Columbia Youth Choir and in her senior year she began taking private vocal lessons after one of her teachers recommended it.“I did honour choir and BCYC, the British Columbia Youth Choir, and when I did that in grade 12 the conduct took me aside … and said I should consider taking private lessons,” she said. “So I talked to my choir teacher at school and I took lessons.”
After high school, Poureslami auditioned for music programs at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia and was accepted into both schools. She elected to attend UBC and said the adjustment from a high school music program to a university level program was challenging.
“At first it was hard because I didn’t really know anything,” Poureslami said. “But being around so many people who were passionate about it [singing] really got me passionate about it.”
In 2012 the University of British Columbia graduate received the People’s Choice Award and Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Auditions in Vancouver.
“To be recognized for that and to know that you moved them … is just so amazing,” she said. “It’s the most rewarding part of it really. In the end it’s about the music and it’s about the people you’re performing for.”
Poureslami was also featured as a soprano soloist on Stephen Chatman’s album Magnificat, which was nominated for a 2014 Juno Award.
“That’s so amazing,” she said about the Juno nomination. “Everyone auditioned for that. So to go through that and to get the part and record it, that was my first time really recording anything major and to receive the e-mail this week … is amazing. It is so great so great to have been able to be a part of that and get the guidance and coaching from the composer.”
Poureslami frequently performs with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She said she tries to perform with them on as many Saturdays as she can.
“It’s really great with VSO because most of the players are faculty members at UBC and I’ve always gone up and talked to them,” Poureslami explained. “So, I’ve actually gotten to know a lot of them and whenever we got to do performances for them through them the school it was really great because during the rehearsals I could talk to them. I’ve learned so much from them.”
Poureslami also credits the University of British Columbia for providing her with the opportunity to pursue her true calling.
“What UBC gave me was an opportunity to explore and to find out what it is that I am passionate about it. If you don’t try it, you won’t know,” she said.Bahareh Poureslami performs at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church on (Feb. 13). Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/opera-nanaimo-tickets