2021 Incoming Grad Series: Sogol Aliabadi

by Chava Nerenberg, Graduate Programming Assistant
Tuesday, September 14, 2021 8:30 AM

The 2021 Incoming Grad Series continues, featuring backstories and fun facts about 8 students who are part of the entering class at UCSB.

Sogol Aliabadi is coming to UCSB from Santa Monica to complete the Master's in Music program in Viola Performance. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Music from UC Davis and will be the violist of the UCSB Young Artists String Quartet. Read on to learn more about her background, why she chose UCSB, and some surprising fun facts--including how she created a video game orchestra! 



Sogol was born in Tehran, Iran, but moved with her parents to the US when she was just 18 months old. She grew up in Santa Monica, California, and told us that thanks to Santa Monica’s amazing music education, she started playing the viola in 4th grade. She said, "I always felt at home when I was in orchestra; it was always my favorite class period." However, Sogol told us that due to cultural pressures to become a doctor, she applied to college as a biology major. She was accepted into UC Davis as a pre-med bio major and fell in love with the campus. However, she says she never liked any of her biology courses and dreaded going to class.

She told us that while she was in college her father passed away quickly from pancreatic cancer and never had the chance to pursue his dream of retiring and making painting his life. This experience taught her that life is too short to not pursue what makes her happy. As a result, at the end of her junior year of college she switched her major to music. She told us, "Suddenly life became colorful again, and I enjoyed every single minute of my music degree." She received her BA in Music with an emphasis in Viola Performance in June 2018.


Sogol chose UCSB because she loved the beautiful campus, the surrounding nature, the many hiking trails that overlook the ocean, and the overall vibe she got from Santa Barbara. She told us she is very excited to work with the talented music faculty at UCSB, whom she got to know through the summer strings intensive program, and looks forward to the 5-minute walk from the music building to the beach. 



Sogol told us she is interested in researching how the role of the viola has evolved over time in chamber music, from being just harmonic accompaniment in the Baroque and Classical eras to taking on a more soloistic role in the Romantic era. She will also be the violist of the UCSB Young Artists String Quartet, so she expects to spend a lot of her time in the practice rooms!



Sogol is an avid gamer who enjoys open-world RPG’s, indie games, online games with friends, and everything in between. Combining her love of music and video games, she co-founded the Video Game Orchestra at UC Davis. She told us this talented group arranged their own video game music by ear for various combinations of instruments using music notation software and then performed them all around campus and in the Davis community. Starting as a small group of 10 close friends, the organization evolved into a 90-person orchestra consisting of instruments from strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, percussion, and even bass guitar.

She once attended a taping of The Big Bang Theory in Burbank and told us "Now my distinct laugh is etched into eternity."

Her mother moved to Sweden her freshman year of college, and she said Sweden has become her second home. She loves the Swedish culture, language, and way of life and visits her mom a few times every year. Sogol can also speak four languages: English, Farsi, French, and Swedish. 

Welcome, Sogol!

Be sure to subscribe to the GradPost and check back each day until the start of classes for the continuation of our Incoming Grad Series.