Amir Zaheri

Associate Director of the School of Music
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Director of Student Affairs and Student Wellness
Director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble
Interim Director of Choral Activities
Associate Professor of Composition


  • BA, Composition, Conducting, Voice Performance, Organ Performance, Western Kentucky University
  • MM, Composition, Georgia State University
  • DMA, Music Composition, University of Alabama

Research Areas


DR. AMIR ZAHERI is Head of the Music Composition Program and Music Director and Conductor of the Contemporary Ensemble, at the University of Alabama. A partial account of recent national- and International-level performances of his art includes; the 2014 Hot Springs Music Festival (Hot Springs, Arkansas), the 2015 International Clarinet Association Conference (Madrid, Spain), the 17th Annual World Saxophone Conference of 2015 (Strasbourg, France), the 2015 PARMA International New Music Festival (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), the 2015 Electronic Music Midwest National Music Festival (Kansas City, Kansas), the 2016 International Tuba Euphonium Conference (Knoxville, Tennessee), the 2016 International Double Reed 45th Annual Conference (Columbus, Georgia), the 2017 International Experimental Film Forum (Los Angeles, California), the 2017 Sound Thought Festival at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow, Scotland), the 2018 International Horn Society Conference, which included a premiere of his concerto for horn and wind ensemble by the U.S. Army Field Band (Muncie, Indiana), the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland), the 2019 Society of Composers, Incorporated Annual Conference (Albuquerque, New Mexico), and the 2019 International Conference of Theatre Between Tradition and Contemporaneity (Styria Province, Austria).

Dr. Zaheri also serves as the Associate Director of the School of Music, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Director of Student Affairs and Student Wellness. His profound impact on the students is summed up by one student, who wrote, “Dr. Zaheri is very passionate about teaching, the subject of this course, and the general wellbeing of the students. I have never come across a teacher that cared so deeply about me as an individual, and it is such a blessing.” Additionally, Dr. Zaheri serves as conductor of the Tuscaloosa Youth Orchestra.

Immediately prior to these appointments, Dr. Zaheri held the distinguished Ben and Coy Narramore Fellowship at the University of Alabama, where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Composition in 2013. At the same time, he completed a Doctoral Minor in Musicology; his research focuses on the Music of Nazi Germany. Dr. Zaheri holds the Master of Music degree in Music Composition from Georgia State University, where his primary teacher was Nickitas Demos. Dr. Zaheri completed undergraduate studies in music at Western Kentucky University. There he studied Composition with Michael Kallstrom, Conducting with Ronnie Oliver, Jr., Voice Performance with Nancy Cron, and Organ Performance with Andrew Risinger. Early organ studies were completed under the tutelage of Larry Keenan, Professor Emeritus, Morehead State University. In 2019, the Music Department of Western Kentucky University inducted Dr. Zaheri into the Wall of Fame, an honor for distinguished faculty and alumni.

An accomplished organist and pianist, Dr. Zaheri has been heard in performances throughout the United States, England, and Scotland, and is regularly engaged for recitals, festivals, and other special performances. Dr. Zaheri has more than 20 years experience in music ministry as organist-choirmaster, and as director of music and worship arts in multiple faith-based settings. One notable appointment is Dr. Zaheri’s tenure as Chapel Organist and Composer-in-Residence for Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta, which USA Today cited as one of “10 great places to hear heavenly music” in the U.S. (2007). Additionally, Zaheri has extensive experience and continues to be active as a collaborative keyboard artist with numerous vocal and instrumental soloists and ensembles.

Dr. Zaheri is the recipient of many commissions, prizes, performances, awards, and publications at regional, national, and international levels. His piece, “Behold How Good and Pleasant” was premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2004. The U.S. Army Field Band commissioned and premiered his concerto for horn and wind ensemble in 2018. He is frequently commissioned to write for young voices, and invited to serve as a clinician and conductor for elementary and junior high choirs: He is no stranger to the choral festival and clinics of Kentucky. Matters related to social justice, especially forced migration, are particularly close to his heart. In 2016 he visited a refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece, spending time with those trapped there. This led to a collaborative film project, “May I Take Your Picture?” for which he composed the score, which continues to receive recognition internationally at important film festivals. Additionally, his works are recorded and released on prominent labels. His compositional interests are wide-ranging and include classical chamber and large ensemble concert music, film music, music for screen dance, music for live dance, electronic music, popular music, multimedia art, opera, and musical theatre. Zaheri’s teaching at the university reflects his own expansive compositional interests. At the University of Alabama, students pursue the creation of concert music, popular music, dramatic works of various genres, film music, video game music, multimedia art, and experimental art, all with a strong emphasis placed upon collaboration. Zaheri’s students are being recognized at both national and international levels, and are obtaining prizes and performances by acclaimed artists and ensembles. Additionally, his students are routinely accepted to esteemed graduate programs in music composition, and winning national searches at colleges and universities throughout the nation.

Committed to pursuing the highest possible artistic level in both the creation and performance of the musical art form, Dr. Zaheri is a composer, conductor, educator, and performer who is passionate about training musicians at all stages and all ages, instilling in everyone the importance of all musical experiences. Frequently engaged as a guest conductor and clinician, Dr. Zaheri routinely works with young musicians, from elementary through high school ages, in both instrumental and choral settings. Currently, Zaheri serves on the Alabama Music Educators Association’s President’s Cabinet, as the Advanced Placement Theory Chairperson.