Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto

ICOT LOGOIranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto (ICOT) is a not-for-profit organization that was founded by five Toronto-based composers and musicians in 2011. It is not affiliated with any religious or political parties. “Persian Piano Night” was ICOT’s first project in the summer of 2011 in Toronto, which included 4 newly composed pieces by the members of the group, and a few pieces by other well-known Iranian composers. The unprecedented reception of this concert compelled ICOT to tour this concert to three more cities in Ontario and Quebec, and also to record and produce these pieces at the main recording studio at McGill University. “New Poetry, New Music” was ICOT’s second professional activity in Toronto in September of 2013, in which all 5 composers of the group composed new pieces based on some of most famous Iranian contemporary poems for string quartet, voice and narration. During this concert, ICOT received a letter of appreciation from the Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture And Sport for its artistic and cultural endeavors and contributions to the community.

ICOT appeared on the BBC Farsi’s “Maks” program in early 2013 for their musical activities during the “Persian Piano Night” concert series. This 20 minute program included interviews with members about the origins of the collective, as well as recordings of excerpts of the pieces in the concert.


In July of 2013 ICOT brought “Operatic Narration of Arash the Archer” to the Westjet stage at the Harbourfront Centre as the opening concert for the Tirgan Festival. This operatic work was directed by Siavash Shabanpour, and the visual illustrations done by Touka Neyestani and acted by Parto, Shahkhalili, Fard, Ramezani and Shabanpour. This multi-media work was seen by 2500+ people at the venue, plus 3000+ people watching the livestream from across the world. ICOT as well as the rest of the production crew of this project received the “Arash the Archer” Statue Award from the Tirgan Festival. ICOT has also been involved in a numerous festivals including the “2013 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche”, at the Canadian Music Centre, and the 2012 Iranian Heritage Day at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Afarin Mansouri Tehrani – Artistic Director

Afarin Mansouri is co-founder and Artistic Director of ICOT. An award winning composer, Afarin has collaborated with various ensembles, organizations and festivals such as National Ballet of Canada, Cathedral Bluff Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Tirgan Festival, Nuit Blanche, KW Open Ears Festival, ICOT, Windag Choir and Ensemble, TorQ Percussion Ensemble, and St Augustine Duo. Her compositions cover variety of styles and genres from orchestral to electronic music and have been performed in Canada, United States, and South America.

In addition, Afarin is the founder and director of MUSIC NEST, an associate composer of Canadian Music Centre and an advisory committee member of North York Arts. Currently she is a PhD candidate at York University researching on children’s opera while teaching undergrad courses in solfege, counterpoint, theory, and harmony. She has presented her musical research at many national and international music conferences. Afarin is the recipient of 2013 Music Creation Grant from Toronto Arts Council for her opera “To whom shall I give my heart?”, based on a Persian story by Nader Ebrahimi.

Maziar Heidari – Music Director

Maziar Heidari began his musical studies at the age of five, with one of Iran’s most famous piano professors, Ardeshir Rohani. He gradu¬ated with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and completed composition lessons with Farhad Fakhreddini (a well-known Iranian composer and conductor). In 2003, Maziar was admitted to Art University of Tehran, as a top student in master of music in com¬position where he studied with well-known Iranian musicians such as: Ahmad Pejman, Sharif Lotfi, Hossein Dehlavi, Mostafa Pourtorab, Siavash Beizaii, as well as Tolib Shakhidi, from the Moscow Conservatoire, and Khayyam Mirzazadeh from Baku Conservatoire. He was also a piano and orchestration tutor for the Art University of Tehran for 6 years. Maziar served as composer, assistant conductor and pianist for the Iran National Music Orchestra for more than 10 years. In the summer of 2011, he won the Tirgan Festival trophy for his conducting of the Pardis Orchestra for their Opening Ceremony at Harbourfront Center in Toronto. He is also one of the co-founders of the Iranian classi¬cal music group, ICOT (Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto).

Maziar holds a Masters degree in Conducting from the University of Toronto. He works as a pianist for Orchestra Toronto (OT), as music director and conductor for the ICOT Symphony Orchestra and as a freelance educator, pianist, composer and conductor in Canada.

Saman Shahi – Executive Manager

Saman holds a Masters of Composition from the University of Toronto, where he also received his Bachelor’s degree with honors in Composition and Piano Performance earlier. He is a professional member of the Canadian League of Composers (affiliate composer)  as well as SOCAN foundation and the Canadian Music Centre (associate composer). He is also one of the co-founders of ICOT (Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto).

Saman is a recipient of many awards including the 2012 CLC/CMC mentorship project in Ontario, as well as the Minister of Culture and Sports’ letter of acknowledgements for his artistic and cultural activities in 2012. His music has been read and performed by many ensembles and  renowned performers across Canada, United States as well as France, Germany and Malaysia. His Music has also been broadcast on BBC Farsi, CBC (Podcast), as well as Radio Sedaye Toronto in 2013..

His body of works include two operatic works;  “Rob Ford: An Operatic Life” which was premiered last January 2012 in the Macmillan Theatre, and also “Operatic Narration of Arash the Archer” as the opening concert for the 2013 Tirgan festival at the Westjet stage at Harbourfront Center in Toronto. He also (alongside with ICOT) recently finished a ballet work for the YOUDance company of the National Ballet and the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra. Saman is also active as a Pianist, arranger, conductor and educator, and he also composes music for films, animations and video games.

Keyan Emami – President

Keyan Emami is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition at the University of Toronto on full fellowship under the supervision of Professor Christos Hatzis. His notable teachers include Professor Alexander Rapoport, Norbert Palej, Ryan McClelland, and Chan Ka Nin.
After completing his Bachelors in Polymer Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Tehran, Keyan started his Masters in Music Composition at the Art University of Tehran where he graduated with first-degree honor and won the Best Master’s Thesis Prize. His teachers and mentors include Tolib Shakhidi (Distinguished Student of Aram Khachaturian), Khayyam Mirzazade (Former Dean of Composition at the Baku State Conservatory), Sharif Lotfi (Former Dean of Music at the Tehran University of Art), Ahmad Pejman, Hossein Dehlavi, Mostafa Poortorab, Mehran Rouhani, Hamidreza Dibazar, Amir Eslami, Kiawasch Sahebnassagh, Kambiz Roshanravan,Tamara Dolidze, and Farman Behboud.
Keyan is an accomplished composer, with a wide variety of instrumental and vocal works including symphonic, operatic, chamber, and solo pieces, as well as music for theatre productions, and theme music for film and television. Keyan is the Cofounder of ICOT, Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto, and a member of FIM and SOCAN foundations. Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art published his well-received Persian translation of the book Form and Design by Roy Bennett in 2009.
He works as a Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Music of the University of Toronto for “Music Since 1900” Course and also has served as the Assistant Coordinator of University of Toronto New Music Festival. Keyan has worked as a University Instructor of Music at the Art University of Tehran, Azad University, University of Applied Science and Technology, and the Tehran Conservatory of Music where he has offered numerous music courses including Piano, Music Theory, Sight Singing, Ear training, Musical Form, Music History, Tonal Harmony, Counterpoint, Orchestration, and Introduction to Music Composition. Keyan also holds the positions of the Founder and Artistic Director of Key Music.

Pouya Hamidi – Technical and Media Manager

Pouya Hamidi had his first lessons in classical piano as a small child in Iran. Since coming to Canada he has attended the Young Artist Performance Academy (RCM) at The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM), completed the Claude Watson Arts Diploma, and a Bachelor of Piano Performance and a Bachelor of Music in composition at the University of Toronto . He received the Associate of the Royal Conservatory Certificate in piano performance, the highest level awarded by the RCM. Pouya has also won competitions such as the Canadian Music Competition, Kiwanis Music Competition, and best performance and composition at the Markham Music Festival. Jamie Parker (Gryphon Trio), Ka Nin Chan, Christos Hatzis, and Alexander Rapoport were among his professors at the University of Toronto, where several scholarships also supported his studies. Pouya’s other musical interests include film scoring, employing diverse instrumentation including Persian traditional instruments. Ladom Ensemble is Pouya’s other performance projects, a Persian/Balkan classical ensemble. Pouya completed his Master’s in Audio Engineering from McGill University and is working freelance in Toronto.