Dr. Amir Zaheri (b. 1979) is the musical director and conductor of the University of Alabama Contemporary Ensemble, which is committed to performing music of the 20th and 21st centuries, including masterworks by established composers, music by emerging composers, and the music of University of Alabama student and faculty composers. He also serves as full time instructor of composition and theory, maintaining a full studio of student composers. Immediately prior to his appointment, Zaheri held the distinguished Narramore Fellowship at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Composition in 2013. At UA, Zaheri studied under the primary tutelage of C.P. First and received additional instruction from Peter Westergaard.
Committed to pursuing the highest possible artistic level in both the creation and performance of the musical art form, Zaheri is a composer, conductor, educator, clinician, and performer who is passionate about training musicians at all stages and all ages, instilling in them the importance of all musical experiences. Frequently engaged as a guest conductor and composer, Zaheri routinely works with young musicians, from elementary through high school age, in addition to his regular work with students at the university level.
Prior to his education at the University of Alabama, Zaheri completed the Master of Music degree in Composition at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and studied with Nickitas J. Demos. Undergraduate studies in music were completed at Western Kentucky University, in Bowling Green. At WKU, Zaheri studied music composition with Michael Kallstrom; choral methods, choral materials and conducting with Ronnie Oliver Jr.; organ performance with Andrew Risinger; and voice performance with Scott Root, Michael Sokol, and Nancy Cron. In addition to his formal education, Zaheri has participated in significant master class studies and lectures with Peter Westergaard, Robert Spano, Alvin Singleton, Paul Moravec, Paul Elwood, Don Freund, Jennifer Higdon, the Bang-on-a-Can New Music Ensemble, and the Eighth blackbird New Music Ensemble, among others.
The recipient of numerous national and international awards and performances, Zaheri has most recently received commissions and performances from: the University of Alabama Huxford Woodwind Quintet, the Cavell Woodwind Trio, Georgia College and State University, baritone Paul Houghtaling, for his performance at the National Opera Association’s annual convention in January of 2013; the University of Alabama’s Opera Theatre, for an dditional comic scene and musical number for Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” for their Spring 2013 season; Dr. Judy Bonner (President, The University of Alabama), for Celebrating Achievement, a work to be frequently performed in recognition of the University of Alabama’s superior faculty and student accomplishments, beginning Fall 2012; Western Kentucky University’s Department of Choral Activities, for their Fall 2012 season; the University of Alabama’s Opera Theatre, for the creation of a new full-length musical theatre work, to be premiered during their Fall 2013 season; Briarwood Elementary School, of Bowling Green KY, for their performance at the 2012 Kentucky Music Educators Association annual conference; the Kentucky Music Educators Association, for the 2012 KMEA Jr. High All State Chorus; the University of Alabama’s Opera Theatre, for the creation of a new opera for their 2011 Spring performance; Westminster Choir College, for their Spring 2008 and Spring 2009 Chapel Choir concert events; the Atlanta lnterfaith AIDS Network, for their 2005 City-Wide World AIDS Day Requiem service; the Wisconsin Chamber Chorus, for their 2005-2006 concert season; Manhattan Concert Productions, for their 2005 Carnegie Hall National Festival Choir performance series; the Young Women’s Chorus of Kentucky, for their 2004 Kentucky Music Educators’ Association Convention performance, as well as their 2003 performance at the Shenandoah Conservatory Music Educators National Conference (SCMENC), in Savannah GA; Georgia State University’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble, for their 2002-2003 concert season; and The University of Georgia, for their 2002-2003 choral/orchestral concert season.
Zaheri’s music has been recently selected for performance by the Cavell Woodwind Trio, during their performance at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center in Tuscaloosa. The Cavell Trio will also perform Zaheri’s music at the 2014 Hot Springs Music Festival, in Hot Springs AR, as well as the 2014 International Clarinet Association ClarinetFest, at Louisiana State University. Additionally, Zaheri’s music has been selected for performance at the 2014 Society of Composers National Conference, ComposersCircle.com (July 7, 2012), The 2012 Student Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference, the University of Mary Washington’s Electroacoustic Barn Dance, Boston Metro Opera, the Society of Composers, Inc., the NewNowNorse New Music Festival (Northern Kentucky University), the Fresno New Music Festival (CSU, Fresno), the Conundrum Chamber Music Ensemble, the neoPhonia New Music Ensemble, Emory University’s Composer to Composer new music reading series, the lmpromptu Chamber Choir of Atlanta, the Georgia Music Educators Association, and the Kentucky Music Educators Association. In 2001, Zaheri won first prize in the Kentucky Music Educators Association annual Collegiate Composition Competition.
Zaheri’s music has been repeatedly published by The International Journal of Contemporary Composition (Volume 2, June 2012 and Volume 9, May 2013), a peer-reviewed publication. His recent composition Two Girls and a Boy for woodwind trio, was released on Blue Griffin Records in May of 2014.
Zaheri was named “One of Tuscaloosa’s Six Most Intriguing People of 2011” by Tuscaloosa Magazine; he is professionally managed by Price-Rubin & Partners.