An internationally recognized composer, producer, and opera artist, Dr. Afarin Mansouri has a unique and dynamic style that connects her Iranian roots with her Western aesthetic and training. Afarin has received many awards and accolades for her contributions to the Canadian music and operatic scene, including the Canada 150 Medal, the Kathleen McMorrow Music Award, and a nomination for the Louise Applebaum Composition Award. She has been featured in publications such as The Globe & Mail, BBC World, and Opera Canada. Throughout her career, Afarin has collaborated with numerous organizations and festivals across North America, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, You Dance National Ballet of Canada, Tapestry Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Loose Tea Music Theatre, Toronto Summer Music Festival, Seattle Opera, Queen’s University, Wilfrid Laurier University, Tirgan Festival, and Toronto Nuit Blanche.
Since 2016, Afarin’s compositional focus has been towards the creation of innovative operas. Her approach to opera creates a unique cross-cultural experience for artists and audiences to connect with Eastern cultures, through language, poetry, storytelling, traditional instruments and more:
In 2023, She was cmissioned by Opera Renesseice and Ealry Music Vancouver to composer music for the prodcution of Queen of Cartage, giving The character DIDO a new voice through Rumi's Poetry. Her spiritual Farsi opera, Zuleykha, was produced by Loose Tea Theatre and performed at Toronto Summer Music Festival in 2022. Zuleykha combines Eastern mysticism, symbolism and music within a traditional operatic style; During the 2022 pandemic, her first digital opera, AITCH ARR was produced in collaboration with Queen’s University, and she self-produced her first audio opera, Little Heart. Opera Canada called it “a sweet adventure into cross-cultural storytelling with sound”. In 2018, Afarin composed Saffronic as part of the stage production The Journey, Notes of Hope. Opera Canada called Saffronic “Powerful. The most memorable highlights of the opera.” Her 2018 opera Forbidden, comissioned and produced by Tapestry opera gained national and international attention during 2018 when it was featured in BBC World, and was featured in the BBC Farsi documentary series, Tamasha.
Her passion for opera and serving the community has led Afarin to found Cultureland Opera Collective, an organization with a mission to produce operas with cross-cultural elements in language, drama, music and design. Amplifying underrepresented and marginalized voices, Cultureland Opera Collective provides a platform for emerging artists to develop their skills, collaborate with experts and showcase their artistic talents. An opera advocator, Afarin is the first Iranian woman who gave lectures about opera in Farsi language at Canadian Opera Company to make opera more accessible to diverse communities. In 2022, her operatic compositions were premiered at the Four Season Centre for the Arts as part of the Celebrating Asian Heritage Month with the Canadian Opera Company.
Afarin’s orchestral prelude, Mithra, the goddess of love and justice, was commissioned and performed by Toronto Symphony Orchestra for their 100th anniversary celebrations in 2022 and immediately became a symbol for the global Women, Life, Freedom movement, representing the voice of all women across the Middle East.
Her Cantata Humans Arise! which was performed and recorded by Prague Metropolitan Orchestra was broadcast by CBC Radio and Radio Farda to support the Iranian women’s right movement 2022. This piece was selected by CBC program BIG CITY as part of best 2022 shows.
As an academic researcher, Afarin’s PhD dissertation explores the history of children's opera and how opera affects the development of children’s intellectual skills. As part of her PhD, she developed and published a step-by-step guide for educators interested in developing opera’s with young or amateur participants: (https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/38324) She has presented lectures, papers and workshops for various institutions including Wilfrid Laurier University, Queen’s University, Canadian Opera Company and Young People’s Theatre. Her workshops cover a holistic approach to creation, with emphasis on the role of emotion during the creative process, soundscape, music intelligence, mystical music, opera history, and composition. In 2014 Afarin also founded Music Nest Academy, where she combines storytelling and singing in her piano teachings.
As a mezzo soprano, Afarin has collaborated with Watershed Festival, Toronto Culture Days, Tirgan Festival and Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto (ICOT). She is currently working on producing her first vocal album "Dancing With Love" , including 12 love songs based on poetry of prominent Eastern Mystic Masters. The album is in collaboration with Thin Edge Music Collective.
As an advocate for social and artist equity, she has served as a member of the Canadian Opera Company's DEI committee, the councilor of Canadian League of Composers, as well as the co-founder and past artistic director of Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto (ICOT).
Last Update: Oct 2022