BIO

Award-winning composer Omid Zoufonoun hails from the acclaimed Zoufounoun family, one of four musical sons trained under master Persian musician Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun. Born in Tehran and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Omid is also an orchestral conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and passionate educator. Omid’s compositions aim to find the ephemeral sweet spot where rhythms, melodies, and micro-tonal inflections of the Persian Radif effortlessly and naturally blend with a command of Western counterpoint, harmony, and orchestration.
From 2003 until 2009, Omid was cellist and arranger for the celebrated Zoufonoun Ensemble, a group formed to present the large-scale suites composed by Ostad Zoufonoun. During this time, Omid arranged two of these suites, Fash Migooyam (in the mode of Chahargah) and Naghde Sufi (in the mode of Rastpanjgah) for the ensemble’s mixed instrumentation of setar, tar, violin, cello, and tonbak. Highlights among the group’s critically acclaimed concerts include sold-out performances at the SF Palace of Fine Arts, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and Herbst Theater. In continuing his efforts to study and preserve his musical heritage, Omid has also notated and edited the instrumental and vocal works of Ostad Zoufonoun for publication.
Omid’s most recent concert commissions include a three-movment Sonata for Cello and Piano for the duet Martha&Monica, inspired by the events surrounding the Arab Spring, a guitar octet, Cascade, commissioned by the Guitar Foundation of America and premiered by a 65-piece guitar orchestra in Loudon, Virginia, and a setting of four Rumi poems in Farsi for choir, santur, ney, tombak, daf, and bass.  This latter work, Shoor-e Mastaan (Passion of the Intoxicated), commissioned by the Pacific Mozart Ensemble and generously funded by the Creative Work Fund, calls upon a Western choir to sing Rumi’s poetry in the original Farsi while using microtonal Persian scales.
In 2010, Omid was commissioned by the Oakland Youth Orchestra to compose a large-scale work for full orchestra and kamanche (Persian spike fiddle). The four-movement piece, Manteq at-Tayr (Language of the Birds), was premiered at the Scottish Rite Temple under the composer’s baton and was received with standing ovation from an audience of over 600. Oakland East Bay Symphony Music Director Michael Morgan remarked, “Omid Zoufonoun’s colorful and evocative piece was a tremendous success with the players and the audience, and really needs to be taken up by professional orchestras looking for something unique and yet completely accessible.” Following this successful world premiere, Maestro Morgan programmed Manteq at-Tayr as the closing work for the Oakland East Bay Symphony’s Persian New Year concert at the Paramount Theatre on March 18, 2011.
In addition to his exploration of Persian music through a wide symphonic lens, Omid is also surveying the intimate and poetic nature of Persian music through his arrangements of nine famous Persian songs for classical guitar and voice. The arrangements, created for his duet with brother Amir Zoufonoun, carefully blend the poetic meter and vocal inflections of iconic Persian melodies with virtuosic classical guitar techniques and evocative new harmonies.   These re-interpretations of classic Persian songs are currently being recorded featuring Omid playing classical guitar.
Beyond his Persian-themed projects, Omid has been equally successful composing in Western contexts and idioms. He was commissioned by Grammy Award-winning guitarist Scott Tennant (Los Angeles Guitar Quartet) to compose an etude for his internationally best-selling book Pumping Nylon. Omid’s three-movement duet for clarinet and guitar, By Shadow By Light (Berben International Publishers), was a prize winner at the 2009 Boston Guitarfest Competition.
Omid’s Persian musical training on the cello has been obtained in the oral tradition under his father’s guidance. Complementing this, he earned a Bachelor of Music in classical guitar performance from the USC School of Music, graduating at the top of his class. Postgraduate studies took him to Austria, where he studied orchestral conducting under the guidance of Georg Mark at the Vienna Conservatory.  Omid currently teaches composition, AP music theory, orchestral studies, chamber music, and guitar at Oakland School for the Arts.
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