30 under 30: Chloe Pourmorady
Sharing a musical travelogue with her violin
Chloe Pourmorady picked up a violin at the age of 9 and hasn’t put it down since. The 26-year-old Los Angeles native, who went to Sinai Akiba Academy, started out in the school orchestra there playing Jewish music, then went on to study at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), where she got a degree in violin and played classical music in the chamber ensembles.
After college, Pourmorady, the winner of the Independent Music Awards’ Best Eclectic EP and Best Eclectic Song honors in 2015, started performing in small bars, clubs and cafes. She also traveled the world, going to places such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Greece and Spain. Though she was performing classical music at the time, her travels gave her the idea to play the folk music of different countries.
“I studied at LMU, but I learned everything after college, through my travels and studying independently,” Pourmorady said. “I’ve gone to those places to learn music and collect folk songs and get an idea of their music culture. I’m my own ethnomusicologist. When I’m there, I just find other musicians to study with. The music finds me in one way or another.”
In Greece, she spent a month taking a workshop about that country’s traditional music. “I learned with a lot of incredible musicians and I brought the music back home to Los Angeles,” she said. “It inspires something in my own writing and composition.”
Pourmorady also incorporates Persian folk music into her performances and takes great pride in her heritage. (Her parents fled Iran before she was born due to the Islamic revolution.) Last month, she played Jewish songs during a concert with her ensemble at the Skirball Cultural Center as part of the Infinite Light Festival during Chanukah.
Two local organizations, NuRoots and Jews Indigeneous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) put on the concert. Pourmorady, who serves as an ambassador for JIMENA, said she tries to bring Persian culture to life through her music. After receiving positive feedback for the show at the Skirball, she is working on preparing shows for Purim and Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
Pourmorady also has found a way to connect with her community through a group she started last year. Called First Generation Project, it brings first-generation Iranian women together to share their art — visual, musical or other creative endeavors — with one another.
“I saw there was this issue in our community that our women felt like they couldn’t really pursue a creative path, or they were afraid to do it,” she said. “I wanted to create this project for them to embrace their creativity and showcase the women doing something special in our community.”
So far, Pourmorady has held meetings where women come and share what they’re working on — one participant brought in a skateboard that featured Persian art on it. In the future, she hopes to expand the project to other first-generation communities in Los Angeles.
Through her music, Pourmorady hopes to tell stories and to reach as many listeners as possible.
“The more styles of music I learn and perform, the more people I can connect with and the wider audiences I can touch, “ she said. “That’s really my goal as a musician and as a performer. I want to create peace.”