Ali Yazdanfar

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, but also as a soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue.

Although he started playing the bass at 7 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 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 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 around the world.  Taking inspiration from his Iranian roots, he 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. Ali is also an associate professor at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, and his former students hold posts in major orchestras of Canada, the United States, and Europe.  He also presents masterclasses during the 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 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.