Violinist Zubaida Azezi is a recent New World Symphony alumna, before she joined TFO at the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Her passion for music has led her to perform on international stages in Asia, Europe, and North and South America. She also is committed to promoting music education. In the summer of 2014, she traveled to Urumqi, China, where she partnered with YOA Orchestra of the Americas and founded the province’s first youth orchestra. She has coached students in Colombia, Jamaica, Canada, China, and Dominican Republic. She holds degrees from Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music and Southern Methodist University.
We asked Azezi – known as Zuby in the orchestra – a few questions to get to know her better:
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Urumqi, Xinjiang, a unique region in northwestern China. Xinjiang, once the heart of the ancient Silk Road, is home to the Uyghur people, which is my heritage. We speak Uyghur – a Turkic language — and have distinct cultural practices that are very different from the rest of China. As a result, I grew up exposed to two very different traditions and cultures – Han Chinese and Uyghur. When I turned 11, my family moved to Toronto, where I learned to speak English and was drawn to Canada’s multicultural environment. To this day, Toronto remains my favorite city because it’s like a mini Earth –you can find people from all kinds of backgrounds. Plus, they’re Canadians so they’re super friendly, eh!
Why did you choose to play violin?
Both of my parents are visual artists and come from families that really love and support the arts, especially music. It was very important to my parents that I receive a musical education. When I turned five, they gave me the choice between violin and piano. My dad explained that the piano was like the king of all instruments, and the violin was the queen. So naturally, being a 5-year-old little girl who was obsessed with queens and princesses, I picked the violin! The princess obsession went away pretty quickly, but my love for the violin remains strong.
What fascinates you besides music?
I have always been fascinated with people. When I was little, I used to go around with a pen or a hair brush and pretend I was a journalist, so I could “interview” anyone who would humor me. I wanted to know everything about what made others different from me, and that has not changed a bit. I still spend hours watching documentaries or reading about people who truly intrigue me from all around the world. If I had not become a musician, I would have loved to explore anthropology or psychology.
What is the absolute best part about being a professional musician?
Definitely the best part is sharing something so beautiful and personal with people from all walks of life. I don’t need to speak the same language as my colleagues or the audience to experience a unique performance together. In fact, there are probably all kinds of personalities with extremely different outlooks on life in that concert hall. But at the end of the day, we all come together for two hours to enjoy brilliantly written music, and that’s so fantastic! I get to call that my “job.” How cool is that!
What excites you about The Florida Orchestra?
Where do I begin! I have only been a part of TFO since September 2017, but I already consider my colleagues my second family. It’s so exciting to make music with people you genuinely respect and adore. I don’t think many organizations can truly say that. The same could be said about our donors and audience members. There’s nothing better than to do what you love with your incredibly talented friends and share it with your supportive community. We just announced our 2018/2019 season and I am so looking forward to all the different concerts we will be performing!