Kian Ravaei headshot

Composer Kian Ravaei’s eclectic interests have only multiplied since his adolescent years, which he spent playing jazz, producing electronic dance music, and singing in a rock band…when he was supposed to be practicing piano sonatas. In the years since, his music has been performed by sought-after artists such as guitarist Eliot Fisk and violinist Bella Hristova, and commissioned by notable organizations including the Canadian Music Centre and Copland House.

Just days into the COVID-19 lockdown, Ravaei began a daily ritual of playing a Bach chorale and composing an original chorale. What started as a way to ground himself during a period of emotional turbulence blossomed into an artistic reawakening. Over the course of one year and three hundred sixty-five chorales, Ravaei cultivated a deeply personal musical language, rooted in the same centuries-long tradition that informed countless composers from Beethoven to Bernstein.

A product of the internet age, Ravaei’s earliest compositions were electronic dance music tracks, which garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. He draws on his EDM production experience to compose genre-bending pieces like Outcry, in which the thrill of live instrumental performance meets the penetrating sounds of dubstep and drum & bass. Even his fully acoustic works contain a rhythmic vitality and transcendent yearning that evoke the energy of the dance floor. In recent months, established DJs Wooli and Codeko called on Ravaei to create a lush orchestral version of their rave anthem “Crazy (feat. Casey Cook)”.

Born to Iranian immigrants, Ravaei maintains close ties to the Iranian community in his hometown of Los Angeles (or, as Iranians often call it, Tehrangeles). His multicultural arrangement of the Iranian folk song Morgh-e Sahar — the unofficial anthem for Iranian freedom — was performed at Farhang Foundation’s annual Nowruz celebration, the largest Iranian New Year celebration outside Iran. A passionate speaker, Ravaei delivered a one-hour public lecture on the relationship between music and identity as part of the UCLA Iranian Music Lecture Series. In his work Family Photos, the ornamented melodies of Iranian classical music combine with imaginative string quartet writing, resulting in a refreshingly personal sound.

Inspired by the generosity of his own teachers — celebrated composers such as Richard Danielpour, Tarik O’Regan, and Derek Bermel — Ravaei pays forward his musical training by empowering youth to embrace their creativity. As a Composer Teaching Artist Fellow for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, he taught historically underserved students about the diverse and growing repertoire of orchestral music. With Ravaei’s guidance, the students co-composed a piece of chamber music that was performed by professional musicians, empowering the students to have confidence in their creative voices.

Ravaei studied music composition at UCLA and the Curtis Institute of Music Young Artist Summer Program. He lives with his partner Tania — a budding sociologist — and their feline companions, Loki and Mae.

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