The Iranian born harpsichordist, Mahan Esfahani, studied as a President’s Scholar at Stanford University in California (graduated in 2005 - Musicology and Theory History) where his principal mentor was the musicologist George Houle; he went on to pursue his performance studies under the supervision of the Australian harpsichordist Peter Watchorn (Boston) and the Italian organist Lorenzo Ghielmi at Civica Scuola di Musica di Milano) in Milan, Italy (graduated in 2008) before settling in the UK in 2008 as Artist-in-Residence at New College, Oxford (September 2008 to September 2011). Praised by The Times for his ‘daring and fiery performances’ and by Opera Today as ‘the leading harpsichordist of his generation,’ Esfahani is the first harpsichordist to be named a BBC New Generation Artist (September 2008 to September 2010) and to be awarded a fellowship prize by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.
With a repertoire that spans four centuries, Mahan Esfahani works to take the harpsichord beyond the realm of ‘early music’ and to major festivals and series in the mainstream of Classical Music across Europe, Canada, and the USA. Highlights of the past season have included, in addition to numerous solo recitals, appearances as a director and soloist with The English Concert at the Lufthansa Festival, Montreal’s Arion Baroque Orchestra, and the Manchester Camerata, recitals with such singers as Paul Agnew and James Bowman at Spitalfields and the Wigmore Hall, and his debut in the Far East with the Malaysian Philharmonic. In July of 2011 he sold out London’s Cadogan Hall with the first solo harpsichord recital in the 116-year history of the BBC Proms, and next season sees appearances as a director, harpsichordist/fortepianist, or concerto soloist with the Academy of Ancient Music, Hamburger Symphoniker, Prague Symphony chamber concerts, Istanbul Bach Days, The Hanover Band, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Festival of Flanders at Bruges, New Dutch Academy in The Hague, New York’s Frick Collection, and across the UK.
Recent highlights have included performances of of Kalabis’ Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra (1975) with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Martinu’s Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra (1935) with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlavek, and Francis Poulenc’s Concert Champetre (1928) with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Last season, he also gave his solo debut at the Wigmore Hall (broadcast on BBC Radio 3), about which the Daily Telegraph exclaimed ”the harpsichord comes out of hiding…magnificent.” In addition, his recording of the F. Poulenc’s concerto was issued in May 2010 with BBC Music Magazine, and he has been featured as a “Hot Property” by Classic FM magazine.
As a guest instructor Mahan Esfahani has given lectures and taught at the University of York and the Royal Northern College of Music. In the autumn of 2010 he was made an honorary member of the senior common room at Keble College, Oxford. In now resides in Oxford, Oxfordshire.