Ali Kian 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, as well 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. 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 Kian Yazdanfar 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. With the OSM Chamber Soloists, he has recorded two albums – the first, featured Beethoven’s Septet and Hasenöhrl’s arrangement of Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel, which appeared in 2017 on the Analekta Label, and the second, comprising Schubert’s Octet was released in 2018. Upcoming in the summer of 2023, a new recording on the Leaf Music label will be comprised of duos with the violist Frédéric Lambert.
Currently an Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, Ali Kian Yazdanfar 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 New World Symphony, 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.
Ali Kian Yazdanfar 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 three times Grammy-winning recording of Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks.
Taking inspiration from his Iranian roots, Ali Kian Yazdanfar has commissioned and performed many new works for solo double bass. A recent highlight was the world premiere in 2018 of a new bass concerto by Behzad Ranjbaran, with Kent Nagano conducting the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. In 2023, with support from the Canada Arts Council, he will present a program centered around three new works for double bass and piano by Iranian composers that explores the complex experiences of those with roots in multiple cultures.