Bardia Charaf grew up in a musical environment where various musical traditions were cultivated simultaneously. The household music was influenced by classical European and Persian art music due to his maternal heritage, as well as popular music forms that were nurtured by his paternal side. He began taking flute lessons at the age of 6 and later learned to play the saxophone, clarinet, and piano.
He studied classical saxophone at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba, and graduated with summa cum laude. Simultaneously, he studied orchestral conducting and composition. The initial years after his studies were marked by concert activities across Europe and recordings in the realm of improvised music, collaborating with diverse artists such as Eric-Maria Couturier, Roman Filiu, Dirk Börner, David Virelles, Alejandro Vargas, and Mel Semé.
He furthered his studies in music education at the Zurich University of the Arts, majoring in pedagogy under Benjamin Lang and piano under Chris Wiesendanger. He continued his studies at the University of the Arts in Bern, obtaining a Master’s degree in Composition/Theory with professors Dieter Ammann, Xavier Dayer, and Daniel Glaus, and additional courses from renowned composers Heinz Holliger, Wolfgang Rihm, Helmut Lachenmann, and Peter Ablinger.
At the age of 30, alongside his commitment to composition, he shifted his focus to academic topics. He earned a Masters in Research on the Arts from the University of Bern. In 2023, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Zurich under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Laurenz Lütteken, with the dissertation topic being “The Development of Instrumentation Techniques in the Tone Poems of Richard Strauss as Reflected in Historical Sources.”
In parallel with his regular studies, he deepened his knowledge of historical music theory under the guidance of Prof. em. Markus Jans and harpsichord and basso continuo with Prof. Dirk Boerner (Schola Cantorum Basiliensis). He is in high demand as a composer for ensembles in historical performance practice as well as for modern orchestras. His close collaboration with the Ensemble Ad Fontes under the direction of Mojca Gal resulted in the release of the CD Pregón del Cantante Vagabundo on Ars Records.
Charaf has been invited as a Composer-in-Residence for the Festival de la Guitarra de Sevilla in 2017 and 2019, and he has composed for the concert series “Freunde Alter Musik Basel”. His repertoire spans from solo literature to chamber music, Théâtre Musical, and symphonic works.
Charaf is considered a versatile Swiss composer and multi-instrumentalist of the younger generation and is highly regarded as an educator. He has given masterclasses in Tehran at the Iran Golpa Institute of Music, in France at Jazz’muse, at the Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA), and at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, Cuba. From 2013 to 2019, he served as a jury in the program for the highly gifted in the canton Aargau and held a teaching position for piano at the MNG Rämibühl in Zurich. Since 2015, he has been acting as precentor of the Herz Jesu Church in Zurich, where he is responsible for the conceptual and artistic direction, including the planning of festivals and concert series.
He regularly participates in national and international festivals and has made appearances as a composer and conductor at festivals such as the Bielsko-Biala Festival (Poland), Jazz Plaza (Cuba), Jazzparade (Switzerland), Generations (Switzerland), and Jazznojazz (Switzerland).