Ashkan Behzadi, composer

Ashkan Behzadi headshot

Ashkan Behzadi (b.1983) is an Iranian–Canadian composer residing in New York City. He is a graduate of McGill University in composition and music theory, where he studied with Chris Paul Harman, Brian Cherney, and Philippe Leroux. Prior to this, he also earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from Tehran University, while taking composition and music theory lessons with Alireza Mashayekhi. At Columbia University, he pursued his doctorate studies in composition with Fred Lerdahl, George Lewis, and Georg Friedrich Haas.

Ashkan’s music structurally conveys a miniaturist lyrical craft by demonstrating great attention to details, but ultimately, it aims to invoke the collective-memory of folklore music through the use of allusion and pastiche. “Love, Crystal, and Stone,” a large-scale song cycle based on a selection of Federico García Lorca’s lyric poetry, demonstrates this approach in its surrealistic incorporation of the text and fragments of borrowed folk material, along with its intricate detailed orchestration. Moreover, the question of genre-identity and genre-blurring and, in particular, the relationship between modern lyric and contemporary music is at the core of his aesthetic and artistic research. In “Az hoosh mi..” for the violin and soprano, the musical dimension of the text, an erotic post-language Persian modern poem, expands in the texture of the music to create an elaborated heterophonic relationship between the voice and violin.

Ashkan’s music has been commissioned and performed by various international ensembles, including TAK Ensemble, Oerknal Ensemble, JACK Quartet, Divertimento Ensemble, Ensemble Alternance, Ensemble United Berlin, Exaudi, Yarn/Wire, Ekmeles, Wet Ink, Talea Ensemble, and le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM), and also featured at such festivals and concert series as ACIMC Contemporary Music Festival, Dialoge Festival at Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg, Rondo 2017 in Milan, Manifeste 2014 at IRCAM, CIRMMT new music series, and the New Wave festival in Toronto. Moreover, his music has won numerous competitions, including Graham Sommer Second Prize, the Prix de Composition at Fontainebleau, and a number of SOCAN Foundation awards. Ashkan is currently finishing his doctoral studies in composition at Columbia University under the supervision of Fred Lerdahl. For the 2019–2020 academic year, Ashkan Behzadi will relocate to Chicago to join the University of Chicago community as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Contemporary Composition at the Department of Music.

Ashkan Behzadi's piece Convex premiered with the Grossman Ensemble on March 13, 2020. 

Performance notes:

The uncanny secret about the experience of falling apart is that one can — even if only for seconds — capture the image of the day just the way light is broken up into a hundred shattered shades and bended hues when it passes through a prism.