Growing up, I was surrounded by scientists. My dad and his colleagues all had a great love for music. We lived in the city of Ashtarak on the grounds of the Institute of Physical Research. I have some memories from my early childhood of how passionate these physicists were about their work. I remember parties celebrating my dad’s successful research where my dad would play piano, accordion, and guitar, and people would gather around him and sing. As a child, I absorbed their passion for teamwork; they worked together, celebrated, and spent their free time together…I think this is why I love chamber music: you are working together as a team while having the same creative goal, and the only way to accomplish it is to learn to understand each other. In essence, this would be the very definition of family.
My mother, one of the most caring people I have ever known, was a nurse but always dreamed of learning to play the piano, and she had the same dream. She would bring me to the conservatory building and have me listen under the windows of piano practice rooms. She would say, “Listen, my darling, how beautiful they sound! I hope one day, you too become a pianist.”
My first experience of hearing a formal concert was Komitas Quartet playing music by Komitas at my school. I was a small child, but I remember clearly the feeling of wanting to dedicate my life to music.
At six years old, I was accepted to Ayvazyan School of Music.
My first piano teacher was a beautiful woman with striking features and big sparkly eyes; she knew the power of her charm and would always flirt a little, even with her students. I was utterly mesmerized by her; I guess as a child, I associated her beauty with the beauty of music and could no longer imagine being anything but a professional musician.
Later I moved to the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, and continued my studies at the Romanos Melikyan Music College. Meeting my teacher Vache Umr-Shat made me even more determined to be a concert pianist. During our very long lessons, sometimes over three hours without a break, I would imagine myself in a real concert hall. These were not just piano lessons; they were life lessons as well. He was completely dedicated to his students. Even though an unfortunate accident brought his own performing career to an end, he gave everything to us. Mr. Umr-Shat was a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory and was tough in Russian piano tradition, which he brought to his students. With him, I went through an enormous amount of piano solo and piano duo repertoire. He was rather pedantic and very demanding when it came to the details, but he also taught us how, by going through every aspect, to arrived at the real concept of the piece. “See the form, see the whole piece, think big,” he would say.
I continued my study at the Yerevan State Conservatory with Vache Umr-Shat, and after his death with Professor Anaida Bogdanyan, who led me through my Masters and the Ph.D. During that time, I formed a chamber piano trio SHELL. We performed in Armenia and toured in the USA, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Austria, and Lebanon.
After graduating from the University, I became a soloist with the Armenian State Philharmonic as part of the SHELL trio. During this time, I performed over 500 concerts. SHELL received first prize in the Pierre Lantier Chamber Music Competition, and I received the Golden Medal from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia.
I also premiered the music of Armenian composers Hrachya Melikyan, Levon Chaushyan, Mikhail Kokzhaev, among others, performing their music for piano solo and piano ensemble. I collaborated with many contemporary composers and played and promoted their music at festivals in Armenia, Russia, and Ukraine. Great Armenian composer Robert Amirkhanyan, with whom I still continue to collaborate, inspired me to promote Armenian music worldwide.
After moving to the US, I have continued my career as a soloist, collaborative artist, and a piano coach.
I enjoy traveling all around the US and abroad with solo and chamber programs playing a wide range of repertoire, from modern to Baroque. I find inspiration for my concert programs in the spirit of places I visit, their architecture, their native music, in people I meet, and often in the quiet observations of nature. My favorite way to relax is to go through piles of old sheet music where I always find some hidden treasures I never knew I had or just old forgotten pieces of music I used to love, and I try to bring them back to life.
I give a lot of concerts as a solo guest artist and a member of the Los Angeles based music group Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble around the Los Angeles area.
As my contribution to Armenia, I formed a Unison Duet Music Productions foundation in collaboration with an Armenian violinist and composer, Ruben Aghiyan. Our project Keep Armenian Borders Spiritually Strong is dedicated to bringing music lessons to Armenian children living in areas divested by war. We have organized dozens of concerts in the US, Armenia, and Russia to benefit this program in collaboration with other musicians and the students from my piano studio. They have all donated their talents and time to this cause. In 2018 we released our first CD of Mr. Aghiyan’s compositions with all profits from sales donated to the program as well.
Music is not only my profession; it is my one true passion. I enjoy collaborating with other musicians. I have found that musical collaborations bring people closer and make them members of one big artistic family, allowing for authentic communication and the creation of greatness.