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Violist Emad Zolfaghari

birthday cake
Born On September 13, 2004
Born in Canada
United States
United States
Viola 1700 Matteo Goffriller Viola
Bow Sartory copy bow
graduation cap
Curtis Institute of Music
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Theresa Rudolph, Hsin-Yun Huang
Notable awards/competitions won
First Prize and Audience Prize at the 2024 Primrose International Viola Competition | First Prize at the 2023 Irving M. Klein International String Competition | First Prize at the International 2023 Morningside Music Bridge Competition | Second Prize at the 2022 Johansen International String Competition | Third Prize at the 2023 Concours OSM String Competition | Grand Prize at the OMNI Music Competition

Canadian violist and VC Artist Emad Zolfaghari recently came to international attention after winning the first prize and audience prize at the 2024 Primrose International Viola Competition. Emad was accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music at age 16, where he currently studies with Hsin-Yun Huang. He is the first prize winner of the 2023 Irving M. Klein International String Competition, first prize winner of the International 2023 Morningside Music Bridge Competition, second prize winner of the 2022 Johansen International String Competition, and third prize winner of the 2023 Concours OSM String Competition. His other awards include Grand Prize at the OMNI Music Competition, first prize at the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra Competition, Guelph Symphony Orchestra Competition, and Oakville Chamber Orchestra Competition, second prize at the Ronald Sachs International Music Competition, and top and special prizes at the Shean Strings Competition.

Emad has appeared as a soloist with several major symphony orchestras, including l’Orchestre Métropolitain in Maison Symphonique de Montréal under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Montreal Symphony in Maison Symphonique de Montréal, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Roy Thomson Hall, the National Philharmonic in Strathmore Hall, the Oakville Chamber Orchestra, and the National Metropolitan Philharmonic.

In 2018, Emad was accepted into the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists on full scholarship where he studied with Theresa Rudolph, Assistant Principal Viola of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for four years. He was also a member of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, where he often performed as principal viola. In May 2023, Emad served as principal viola for the Curtis Symphony Orchestra on their West Coast Tour. He additionally has served as principal viola of Symphony in C. Emad was selected for Curtis On Tour in February - March 2024, touring the United States as a string sextet with distinguished artists Ben Beilman, Milena Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, and Oliver Herbert. He has attended the Morningside Music Bridge International Summer Festival on full scholarship, the Center Stage Strings Festival as a junior faculty member, the Perlman Music Program, Music from Angel Fire, Cleveland ChamberFest, ChamberFest West, and Music in the Vineyards. Emad currently plays on a fine 1700 Matteo Goffriller viola on generous loan from the Rachel Barton Pine Foundation and a Sartory copy bow on generous loan from CANIMEX, inc.

Emad Zolfaghari
What are your hobbies outside of music?
Long walks, Hiking, Traveling, Taking care of pets, Spending quality time with friends.
If you were not a musician, what profession do you feel you’d be doing now?
I would probably not be alive…. Or maybe try to be a veterinarian since I love animals so much.
What would your dream gig be?
Performing a string sextet or viola quintet with my dear teacher and mentor, Hsin-Yun Huang.
What is a song that makes you turn the radio up?
Harry Styles As it Was
What would you say makes you unique as a musician?
I started playing the viola quite late compared to my peers - at age 10. It was only a few weeks after I started playing in my school orchestra that the program teacher told me, “I think you could actually do this professionally one day.” Since then, there has not been one day that has gone by that my parents told me to practice, or do anything related to music. It was purely because of my love for the art that I have made it this far, and I continue to live for this music.
Do you keep all 3 meals phone-free? No social media scrolling.
When I am at home, there is a strict no phone at the table policy. I actually enjoy it, it is pretty much only time my entire family gathers together and talks together without any distractions. Apart from being at home, however, I do often times end up on my phone when eating…
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