Composer Kian Ravaei (b. 1999) takes tone painting to a new level, synthesizing diverse inspirations into evocative musical portraits. Whether he is composing piano preludes inspired by mythical creatures, flute melodies that mimic the songs of endangered birds, or a string quartet that draws from the Iranian music of his ancestral heritage, he takes listeners on a spellbinding tour of humanity’s most deeply felt emotions.
The 2023-24 season sees performances at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and Caramoor Center for Music and Arts, as well as premieres by Zodiac Trio and Northwest Sinfonietta. Upcoming commissions include a large-scale work for the LA-based chamber ensemble Salastina, and a piece for the half piano/half percussion icarus Quartet.
Ravaei has collaborated with sought-after artists such as violinist Tessa Lark, guitarist Eliot Fisk, and mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron. Chamber musicians have championed his works, leading to commissions from Chamber Music Northwest—where he served as a Protégé Project Composer-in-Residence—as well as Seattle Chamber Music Society and Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival. Audiences across the country have heard Ravaei’s pieces at such festivals as Music in the Vineyards, Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, and Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, performed by acclaimed ensembles such as Viano Quartet, Abeo Quartet, and Momenta Quartet.
Just days into the COVID-19 lockdown, Ravaei began a daily ritual of playing a Bach chorale at the piano and composing an original chorale in response. 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 a centuries-long tradition.
Notable honors include a Copland House CULTIVATE Fellowship—during which he participated in an emerging composers institute at Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark home—as well as a New Music USA Creator Fund Award and a Barlow Endowment Commission. Ravaei’s rapidly expanding catalog has earned him first prize awards in the New York Youth Symphony First Music Chamber Music Competition, the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York Emerging Composers Competition, and the Zodiac International Music Competition.
Born to Iranian immigrants, Ravaei maintains close ties to the Iranian community in his hometown of Los Angeles. Many of his works combine the ornamented melodies of Iranian classical music with the colorful harmonies of Western classical music. His arrangement of the Iranian protest song Morghe Sahar (Bird of Dawn) is dedicated to the memory of Jina Mahsa Amini, whose death catalyzed mass demonstrations for women’s rights in 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.
Ravaei has made several appearances on classical radio, including America’s most popular classical music radio program, Performance Today. He recently curated a streaming station for Classical Music Indy, pairing favorite pieces with tracks from his album Marvels of Creatures and Strange Things Existing. All Classical Portland interviewed Ravaei about the influence of Persian poetry on his music, and Classical KING FM broadcast his string quartet live from Seattle’s Nordstrom Hall.
DJs know Ravaei as the go-to person for creating orchestral versions of dance songs. His orchestration of Wooli & Codeko's "Crazy (feat. Casey Cook)" has garnered over one hundred thousand plays across streaming platforms. It is no coincidence that many of Ravaei’s concert works contain a rhythmic vitality that evokes the energy of the dance floor.
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 that was performed by professional musicians, empowering the students to have confidence in their creative voices.