Arjang “RJ” Abrarpour would not trade his unique BYU experience for anything.
During his graduate program as a trumpet performance student, Abrarpour received a graduate mentoring award to organize the first-ever BYU Trumpet Festival. The event took place in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit.
For the festival, BYU hosted more than a dozen internationally renowned guest artists, including the iconic Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen. More than 100 participants attended from three countries and 13 states, and they ranged in age from 8 to 93.
“We are talking about the all-star lineup of trumpet players,” Abrarpour said. “Everyone was in awe that we got them to come out and do the festival with us.”
Abrarpour and his mentor came up with the idea for the trumpet festival as a way to help the undergraduates gain valuable experiences while also giving Abrarpour a unique mentorship position.
“It was cool seeing things unfold and being on the sidelines, watching the undergrads put themselves out there and make connections,” Abrarpour said in speaking about his role as a host for the trumpet festival.
Along with the festival, Abrarpour helped host a successful trumpet competition, where several BYU students competed and placed against some of the top collegiate trumpet players. The workshops and master classes offered in conjunction with the festival provided fun opportunities for everyone who attended.
Abrarpour’s success with the festival is even more impressive knowing that just a few years ago, he had never even heard of BYU.
While studying as an undergrad at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, Abrarpour met Professor Jason Bergman and the two made a connection and were able to work together.
Shortly after the two met, Bergman decided to leave Texas to start a position as a trumpet professor at BYU. Abrarpour had never considered BYU before but decided he wanted to work with Bergman and ultimately left Texas to attend a school he had never visited.
Abrarpour acknowledged that working with Bergman has been a wonderful opportunity because of the near-perfect chemistry between the two of them.
“I thought I was an okay trumpet player coming in, but Professor Bergman helped me fine-tune this side of playing I had gotten away with not doing for a long time,” Abrarpour said. “He held me accountable and always helped me in a positive and constructive way.”
Similarly, Bergman has loved working with Abrarpour and praises his incredible work ethic and ability to always be kind and optimistic.
“RJ is the kind of student you dream about having when you’re a teacher,” Bergman said. “When he falls short of a goal he has set, he learns from what didn’t go the way he wanted, addresses the issue, and then gets better.”
Abrarpour is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but has always felt welcomed and respected at BYU. He has learned about the Church and has also shared his Bahá’í Faith with those in the School of Music.
“Coming here and studying at BYU has been incredible! Not being a member, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it,” Abrarpour said. “But everyone has been super kind and helpful.”
Abrarpour hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in the future and become a trumpet professor. The many experiences and opportunities he had while studying at BYU will continue with him as he strives to accomplish this dream.
“My favorite part coming out of BYU is the amazing connections I have made with the faculty members and the teaching experiences I have had,” Abrarpour concluded.