Ali Yazdanfar• McGill University Schulich School of Music
• Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Musical Instrument: Double bass
One of the most prominent double bassists of his generation, Ali Kian Yazdanfar maintains an active career not only as principal double bass of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, but also as a recital and concerto soloist, chamber musician and pedagogue.
Although he started playing the bass at 7 years old, he didn’t take the usual music school route to becoming a professional. In fact, his science and mathematics background led to a physics degree from The Johns Hopkins University and, directly upon graduating, he won his first audition to become a member of the Houston Symphony. He went on to win his next three auditions for the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., for principal bass with the San Francisco Symphony and for principal bass with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, where he currently plays.
Ali has also been a finalist and prize winner at several competitions, most notably the International Society of Bassists’ 2005 solo competition, and he continues to give solo performances across Canada, the United States and around the world.
As a chamber musician, he has performed at the Edinburgh Festival, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Orford Music, the Kennedy Center, and the Festival International du Domaine Forget, among other places, with musicians such as the Fine Arts Quartet, Menahem Pressler, Inon Barnatan, Mark Fewer, Alon Goldstein, Kenneth Slowik, Benjamin Grosvenor, and Christina Ortiz. His ongoing projects include a series of three recordings of chamber music masterworks with his OSM colleagues. The first of these, featuring Beethoven’s Septet and Hasenöhrl’s arrangement of Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel, appeared in 2017 on the Analekta Label, and the Schubert Octet was released in September 2018.
Currently an Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, Ali also presents masterclasses during summer at Orford Music in the Eastern Townships of Québec, Canada. In addition, he regularly appears or has been on the faculty of festivals such the National Orchestral Institute, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States (NYOUSA), Le Domaine Forget, the Chautauqua Institute and the Bass Club (England). He is often invited to give masterclasses worldwide; some appearances include The Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, the Curtis Institute, the Sydney Conservatorium, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the University of Southern California, the Peabody Institute, and Bass Europe congresses in Prague and Copenhagen. He was also on the jury of the solo competition in Prague, and he chaired the Orchestral Competition at the International Society of Bassists’ convention in 2017. He is actively interested in applying the problem-solving methods he used in his physics training to the challenges of bass playing, and has presented several seminars along these lines to audiences worldwide.
Ali can also be heard on many recordings with the OSM, several of which have been awarded Juno and Opus awards. With the Australian Chamber Orchestra, he was guest principal bass on the 3 times Grammy winning recording of Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks.
Recent highlights include world premieres of the solo bass version of Eric Champagne’s ‘’N’importe où hors du monde’’, a concerto performance of the Bottesini Concerto #1 in F# minor with the Orchestre Symphonique de Lévis, and a recital at the Virée Classique in 2019 in Montréal. In February 2018, he commissioned and premiered a new bass concerto by Behzad Ranjbaran, with Kent Nagano conducting the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.