Interview with a Renaissance Persian : Dr. Kaveh Karandish

By Iman Sadri

April 2, 2018

In the dictionary a Renaissance Man is defined as : A present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field. With that definition, Dr. Kaveh Karandish by all means fits into that elucidation. Karandish is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician based in Scottsdale, Arizona and a Music Composer and multi-instrumentalist. He treats COPD by day and plays Chopin by night. He performs non-invasive medical cosmetic procedures during the week and performs on the piano in front of sold out auditoriums with the Makan Foundation concert series’ on the weekends.

Kaveh was recently featured in a half-hour segment by Voice of America ahead of the release of his latest album, Silent Whispers. He is as humble as he is knowledgeable. Hailing from Shiraz, Iran, Dr. Karandish is in many ways a Renaissance Persian based on his roots – and comes from a Renissance family. His late father, Dr. Abdolali Karandish, was a well known ophthalmologist in Shiraz and pianist. His younger brother Mazy Karandish is a multi-instrumentalist and is getting his Ph.D. His sister Nazanin Karandish is a singer, poet and also getting her Ph.D.

Shiraz has produced some of the most artistic and well rounded Persians in the history of Iran. Kaveh’s multi-facetedness and creativity would make Hafez and Saadi proud. Dr. Kaveh Karandish is the first feature of our debut Renaissance Persian Series.

Kaveh Karandish’s newest album Silent Whispers has garnered critical acclaim.

We first met Dr. Karandish in 2009 in New York where we saw him perform at Cafe Vivaldi in NYC’s West Village. After learning that this accomplished pianist who was dazzling a New York crowd, was also a resident physician at nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital, we knew we had met someone extraordinary. He had just finished playing a series of original and classical ballads, including Persian piano hits such as Jane Maryam and Soltane Ghalbha. As well as original music that he composed that made it to his 2011 album Rain.

The back cover of Kaveh Karandish’s album Silent Whispers.

There are many individuals who have a day job and then an after work hobby. There are others who are dabblers. They have a 9-5 job and then dabble into other ventures – but never with any gusto. Not Dr. Kaveh Karandish. He excels both in medicine and music. There is even a field that combines the two – Music Therapy. But Dr. Karandish isn’t a music therapist. He is a physician and a musician. It’s one thing to play the piano for fun after work – it’s another different concept to create original music with other instrumentalists, churn out multiple albums, and play in front thousands of people each year, all while practicing medicine full time. Dr. Karandish helps patients treat ear infections during the day and by night fills the ears of his audiences with some of the best original music that they have ever heard.

Dr. Kaveh Karandish practices Internal Medicine in Arizona during the day and the piano at night.

To catch up with Dr. Kaveh Karandish we recently sat down for a conversation in Irvine, California.

Iman Sadri : Can you talk about your early life, upbringing and education ?

Kaveh Karandish : I was born in Shiraz, Iran. I was mostly a sports fan in my early days, namely basketball and soccer. But in my mid teen years I was really touched by the piano, as well the bass and drum. I started to practice music more seriously when I was 17. I entered medical school at age 18 in a Shiraz and won the 1st prize for two consecutive seasons in a local piano competition when I was 20 and 21 years old. That’s when I said farewell to classical music and started to write my own music. When I moved to California at age 23 I took classical music courses the first 2-3 years at Irvine Valley College and CSU Long Beach. Music composition and creation has always fascinated me since my early days.

Kaveh Karandish in a 2018 interview with Voice of America (Image Credit VOA).

IS: At what age did you start playing piano ?

Kaveh Karandish : 10-11 years old. I started with the electric organ.

IS: Do you play any other musical instruments?

Kaveh Karandish : I play the melodica, keyboards and some accordion.

IS: What about the piano drew you to it as your main instrument?

Kaveh Karandish : I really love the sound and depth of emotion that you can express with the modern piano. It’s a magical instrument. I never get tired of it.

Kaveh Karandish in front of his piano.

IS: What was the catalyst to have you pursue a career in medicine ?

Kaveh Karandish : I was mostly influenced by my father who was an eye surgeon. Also I was a top student for the most part and those days medicine in Iran was very popular. And still is.

Kaveh Karandish playing his hit song Shadow Dance in front a packed audience people in Arizona.

IS: Can you talk about the process of creating original music and the inspiration for your 2011 album Rain ?

Kaveh Karandish : It’s a delicate process. Some songs are more spontaneous and effortless than others. Each song has a story behind it and they are equally special for me as their creator. For the album Rain, nature, passion for life and love were inspirational forces.

“I really love the sound and depth of emotion that you can express with The modern piano.”

IS : Can you talk about your newest album Silent Whispers and how you came up with the original music for it ?

Kaveh Karandish : This is my fourth album that was released on October 2017. It contains 14 original tracks and its been composed over a period of 5 years since 2012. The music is inspired by daily life, nature, emotions and feelings and love and passion for life.

One of Kaveh Karandish’s first original works, My New Season.

IS : How much time do you allocate to piano during the week while practicing medicine ?

Kaveh Karandish : If I am not practicing every day I’ll make sure to listen to some new music or watch a music lecture or a master class or something comparable.

IS : How long does it take you on average to create an album of original music ?

Kaveh Karandish : Many many hours. An album of all original music is difficult to do and takes lots of endurance. I am not honestly sure if I will have the chance of doing another entire one in my life, but then it’s also lots of pleasure for me doing it. As an example just arranging and producing these tracks (After being composed) took around 9 months of daily collaborations.

Kaveh Karandish in an interview with Sandy and Friends.

IS : What was the inspiration for you to call your label Sonic Dreams ?

Kaveh Karandish : It’s a name that I created when I had just emigrated to the U.S. in 1999. I liked it and was somehow based on the name DreamWorks. Just a name that I liked, especially that I really like to combine images and videos with my music and the name even makes more sense. My music website was Sonicdreams.net for many years and we changed it to Kavehpiano.com recently.

Kaveh Karandish’s 2011 album Rain.

IS : Can you elaborate on the MAKAN Foundation and how you have been able to collaborate with such notable artists – including Ardeshir Farah, Faramarz Aslani, and Rana Mansour – just to name a few ?

Kaveh Karandish MAKAN Foundation was established as a dedication to my late brother Makan Karandish, who was a talented film-maker and an art lover. We have been fortunate to promote and host number of art events and concerts featuring prominent artists. Visit our site at MakanFoundation.Org

Kaveh Karandish is a Renaissance Man – Practicing medicine and the piano.

IS : If you could meet one pianist or composer in history who would you meet and why ?

Kaveh Karandish : The all-time musician is Beethoven for his genius. Contemporary musicians I like are Ennio Morricone or Gabriel Yared, they are both amazing film composers and I love their work.

Kaveh Karandish at the piano.

IS : How have you been able to balance medicine and music ?

Kaveh Karandish : It’s been difficult and it takes sacrifice, but I can never have enough time to get to both the way I like ideally. But I try.

The songs from Kaveh Karandish’s album Rain.

IS : Being a Renaissance Persian how do you think people can be more encouraged to combine their talents and passions, to combine creative pursuits with their careers ?

Kaveh Karandish : We live life only once and everyone should spend as much time as possible to do what they love… one’s life makes most sense when you dedicate yourself to your passion … we should never stop dreaming. Dream and be brave about it, simple as that.

“Each song has a story behind it and they are equally special for me as their creator.”


Follow Dr. Kaveh Karandish on social media @KavehKMD and learn about his upcoming concerts at MakanFoundation.org

Iman Sadri is the founder of @ThePersianObserver and @LASmileTV

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