Loading Events
Nov 12 2021

Composing Identity: Notes from an Iranian-American Composer

Ensemble Room: Evelyn & Mo Ostin Music Center

Through a discussion of his string quartet Family Photos, Iranian-American composer Kian Ravaei reflects on the relationship between music and identity, and shares his experience composing works that synthesize Western and Iranian classical music. Students from the UCLA Strings Area join Ravaei for a musical performance of Family Photos and a conversation about the experience of playing music inspired by Iranian culture.

Kian Ravaei composes music that delivers bold melodies, heartfelt directness, and visceral power. His growing body of work has often been praised for combining rigorous compositional technique with naturalness and penetrating emotion. Born in 1999 of Iranian immigrants, Ravaei spent his childhood playing jazz, producing electronic dance music, and singing in a rock band when he should have been practicing piano sonatas. Ravaei's music has been performed by leading musicians and commissioned by notable organizations such as the Canadian Music Centre and Salastina. He makes his home in Los Angeles, where he serves as a Composer Teaching Artist Fellow for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and studies music composition with Richard Danielpour — one of his favorite living composers — at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Christian Gonzales (Violin 1) is a violinist from El Cajon, California, and is currently pursuing a B.M. in Music Performance at UCLA under Movses Pogossian and Varty Manouelian. Christian has performed as part of La Jolla Music Society’s Summerfest, San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s Family Concerts Series, and for events such as Tedx San Diego 2015 and the groundbreaking ceremony of the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in 2017. He has held principal positions including concertmaster of UCLA Philharmonia, was an honorable mention of the 2019 UCLA Philharmonia All-stars competition, and is the 2020-21 Presser Undergraduate Scholar Award winner. Besides music, Christian has practiced martial arts for several years, and is the co-president and assistant coach of UCLA Wushu.

Alisa Khodos (Violin 2) began playing the violin at the age of 8, and discovered her passion for sharing music by playing duets with her best friend on the streets of Laguna Beach. From age 12, she was featured as a soloist abroad with the Irvine Classical Players Orchestra — performing in venues such as La Madeleine (Paris, France), the Pantheon (Rome, Italy), the Saint Peter’s Church (Vienna, Austria), and the Altenberger Dom (Odenthal, Germany), amongst others. Currently, she studies with Professors Pogossian and Manouelian at UCLA. Outside of her studies, she is also a music instructor, filmmaker, songwriter, and martial artist.

Jocelyn Pon (Viola) is a second year undergraduate Music Performance major studying viola performance at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. She was a member of the California Youth Symphony for 7 years, in which she was the Principal Violist for 5 years. In addition, Jocelyn has performed with the California All-State Symphony Orchestra, attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, won first place at the United States International Music Competition, and often performs at local events.

Haley Hedegard (Cello), originally from Phoenix, is an LA-based cellist who enjoys playing all manner of music styles, from classical to pop. This includes early music, in which she is also a proficient player of the bass viol. Haley recently graduated from UCLA with a Masters of Music in Cello Performance, having studied under Antonio Lysy. She also holds a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Chapman University.

The Iranian Music Lecture Series is made possible thanks to generous support from the Farhang Foundation, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Department of Ethnomusicology, and the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, with additional support from the Dean of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

Like most of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s programs, this event is FREE! Register in advance for this event via the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.  Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Early arrival is recommended. Registrants receive priority up until 15 minutes before the event.

While Inside the Venue:

No Food or Drink allowed in the building.

Attending this Program?


This virtual event is FREE! Tune in via Livestream.


Self-service parking is available at UCLA’s Parking Structure #2 for events in Schoenberg Music Building and the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center. Costs range from $1 for 20 minutes to $20 all day. Learn more about campus parking.


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is eager to provide a variety of accommodations and services for access and communications. If you would like to request accommodations, please do so 10 days in advance of the event by emailing ADA@schoolofmusic.ucla.edu or calling (310) 825-0174.


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music welcomes visitors to take non‐flash, personal‐use photography except where noted. Share your images with us @UCLAalpert / #UCLAalpert on Twitter + Instagram + Facebook


Food and drink may not be carried into the theaters. Thank you!


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.