Pirayeh Pourafar

Persian Tar

Persian tar musician Pirayeh Pourafar performsPirayeh Pourafar began to study Persian music at the age of nine when she entered the Royal National Music Conservatory of Teheran.  She studied the Radif, or traditional Persian music repertoire, with Masters Houshang Zarif, Habiboallah Sallehi, Mahmoud Karimi, and Grand Master Ali Akbar-Khan Shahnazi.  After working at Iran’s Center of Preservation and Propagation of Traditional Persian Music for four years, she moved to Spain to study Western Classical Music at the Conservatory of Madrid.  She also received a Master of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts.  She is known not only for her work in traditional Persian music, but also for her creative fusion of Eastern and Western traditions in her composition and performance work.  Since moving to Los Angeles she has directed two successful Persian music ensembles, Nava Ensemble and Liän Ensemble.

The basis of Persian traditional music is the Radif, the Persian music repertoire, which is passed from teacher to student.  Studying the Radif teaches the student the instrumental techniques, aesthetic principles, and the implicit rules of composition and improvisation in Persian music.  Although the Radif has been recorded in writing, the tradition is usually passed orally from teacher to student.  The Persian Tar is a two and a half octave plucked stringed instrument made of mulberry wood.  In order to play the Tar, a student must learn to coordinate the movements of both hands, control the intensity of the sound, keep an accurate tempo, and learn to ornament the melodies.

In 2005, Pirayeh was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with apprentice Aidan Okhovat, focusing on Aidan’s continued study of the Radif.

Select Performances

Performance with Shirin Ebadi, winner of 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, UCLA Royce Hall, Los Angeles, California, May 14, 2004

Musical Explorations Series, Red Cat Theater, Los Angeles, California, December 21, 2003

World Festival of Sacred Music, Los Angles, California, 2002

A Journey to Persia, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, May 25, 2003

Axis of Love, John Anson Ford Theatres, Los Angeles, California, June 8, 2003

43rd Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration, Los Angeles Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, California, December 24, 2002


Durfee Master Musician Fellowship, 2006-2007

City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellow, Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, 2004

ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program, Master Artist, 2005

Featured on cover page of World Rhythm Magazine, 2002

American Composers Forum – Middle Eastern Unite – a program that brings artists into Los Angeles classrooms, Los Angeles, California

Announcer and program host, Persian Radio KIRN 670 AM, 2000-2006

Co-Founder and artistic director, Liän Ensemble, 1997-present

Teaching Experience

Announcer and program host of educational television program, AFN, Los Angeles, 2004-present

Guest lecturer, Master Class, Yabous Production, Jerusalem, Israel 2004

Guest lecturer, Master Classes, Al Urmawi Center, Alexandria, Egypt, 2003

Private instructor, 52 students, 1980-present

Performer and teacher, Center of Preservation and Propagation of Traditional Persian Music, Tehran, Iran, 1975-1979

Professional Services

Teaching and mentorships
Creates commissioned art work
Educational presentations to schools or community organizations
Lectures and demonstrations about Persian music


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