Ali Kian Yazdanfar

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 soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. 

Although he started playing the bass at seven 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 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. 

Taking inspiration from his Iranian roots, he has commissioned and performed many new works for solo double bass. Recent highlights include the world premiere in 2018 of a new bass concerto by Behzad Ranjbaran, as well as a 2023 program centred around three new works for double bass and piano by Iranian composers that explore the complex experiences of those with roots in multiple cultures. 

Ali is also an associate professor at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, and his former students hold posts in major orchestras of Canada, the United States, and Europe. He also presents master classes during the summer at Orford Music in the Eastern Townships, Quebec. In addition, he regularly appears at or has been on the faculty of festivals such as the National Orchestral Institute, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States (NYOUSA), Le Domaine Forget, the Chautauqua Institute, and Bass Club (England). He is often invited to give master classes 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. 

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