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Kian Ravaei {…} wrote a composition that moved Chamber Music Northwest Festival concert-goers to stand up and applaud for minutes — not once, but twice. Oregon ArtsWatch

Composer Kian Ravaei (b. 1999) takes tone painting to a new level, synthesizing diverse inspirations into evocative musical portraits. Whether he is composing a string quartet inspired by wonders of the natural world, electronic music that evokes the pulsating energy of a nightclub, or a symphonic poem 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 2024-25 season sees a variety of performances, including the premiere of a new orchestral work with Northwest Sinfonietta and conductor Mei-Ann Chen, and a new art song for Fleur Barron and Kunal Lahiry’s Carnegie Hall debut. In a trailblazing collaboration, cross-cultural music collective Bridge to Everywhere and choreographer Annie Kahane will present a new work that combines Persian and Jewish musical and dance traditions.

Ravaei has collaborated with sought-after artists such as pianist and cultural activist Lara Downes, Grammy-nominated violinist Tessa Lark, and New York Philharmonic clarinetist Anthony McGill. 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 concert series as Art of Elan, Caramoor, and Strathmore, performed by acclaimed ensembles such as icarus Quartet, Tallā Rouge, and Viano 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 was a featured lecturer at the UCLA Iranian Music Lecture Series, where he discussed his multicultural upbringing and its impact on his music.

Ravaei has made several appearances on classical radio, including America’s most popular classical music radio program, Performance Today. He 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 Benaroya 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, Derrick Skye, and Tarik O’Regan—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, fostering their confidence in their creative abilities.

Ravaei holds degrees in composition from the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. This fall, he will begin a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellowship at The Juilliard School.

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