Kourosh Zolani was born in a small village in Iran. He does not come from a
background that encouraged him to become a musician; indeed, he comes
from a small town where music is not a part of everyday life and is, in general,
considered taboo. He began his musical training with the Santour relatively late
in life, at the age of 14. Remarkably, within two years, he started to teach the
instrument and began to compose original musical works. To pursue his newfound
passion, Kourosh would have to leave his hometown, and thus after high school, he
went to Tehran to continue studying the Santour under Master Faramarz Payvar, the
most famous Santour player in Persian
In 1998, Kourosh received his Bachelor of Arts in Musical Composition from the
distinguished University of Art in Tehran and moved to the U.S. in 2002. He graduated
from the Film Scoring program at the UCLA School of Entertainment in spring of 2007.
During his time at the University of Art, he invented a new method of tuning the Santour
that revolutionized the ancient instrument by transforming it from an exclusively diatonic
instrument to a chromatic one - in essence, allowing the Santour to participate in more
complex music. Finally Kourosh evolved his invention to the new levels designing a
family of Chromatic Santours, which further expand the instrument’s realms of timbre
and range. Most recently, Kourosh Zolani and Mohssen Behrad invented a new
Santour. For the first time in Persian music history, the musicians do not need to retune
this new Santour in order to play in different Dastgahs or scales.
Kourosh is the first musician to perform on the Chromatic Santour with a symphony
orchestra, performing his original scores at venues such as the Kennedy Center in
Washington DC and in the Roman city of Jerash in Jordan. Beside composing and
performing, Kourosh has always been an instructor. He has appeared as a guest
lecturer at UCLA, California State University Long Beach, Pomona college, and several
other notable colleges and universities. Kourosh has received numerous awards for his
performances and compositions. In December 2004, Kourosh received the L.A.
Treasures Award from the California Traditional Music Society and the City of
Los AngelesCultural Affairs Department. In Spring 2003, he was selected as a member
of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission's Musicians Roster. Kourosh also became
one of the 2003 Finalists in the USA Song Writing Competition, in the World Music
Category. Also, “Peaceful Planet” was awarded the Best Solo Instrumental Album of
the Year, in a competition that consisted of over 10,000 albums from 85 countries, in
the Just Plain Folks International Contest of 2004.
In 2009, Zolani released a collection of his original work, entitled “Memoirs of
Sangesar,” which received international acclaim. His latest work East Meets West,
an album with Shelly Cohen, was released in 2012.