Tag Archives: Music

Student Artist: Tigran Arakelyan

Welcome to Student Artist Month on Every Life is a Memoir! With the conclusion of Fall Quarter/Semester, it is important to recognize the talented individuals who have worked so hard improving their skills and working towards achieving their goals. So, this December Every Life is a Memoir will be spotlighting amazing Students Artists.

Please enjoy, show your support, and don’t forget to tell your friends you were a fan before they were famous!

Tigran Arakelyan

Our second student artist is Tigran Arakelyan. Tigran is earning his Doctorate in Musical Arts, Orchestral Conducting at the University of Washington. He is a focused, gifted and passionate artist who brings classical music to life for his audiences.



Tigran’s Bio:

TigranArmenian-American conductor Tigran Arakelyan is the Music Director of Bainbridge Island Youth Orchestras, Federal Way Youth Orchestra, associate conductor of Rainier Symphony and the co-conductor of University of Washington Campus Philharmonia. He recently took the Federal Way Youth Orchestra on a two-week tour of South Korea performing 6 concerts in Seoul and Busan.

He recently completed a two-year tenure as the Music Director of Whidbey Island Community Orchestra where he initiated a higher youth involvement, a young composers competition, scholarships for young members, new concerts in different cities on the island, and a growing audience. Arakelyan was an assistant conductor of Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, Northridge Youth Philharmonic, California State University Northridge Symphony, Discovery Players and a Senior Conducting Fellow with the California Philharmonic (2011, 2012, 2013). He was the Founder Conductor and Artistic Director of Cadence Chamber Orchestra (Seattle), an innovative orchestra that premiered new works and played at unconventional venues. Arakelyan was the Music Director of Lark Musical Society Youth Orchestra in California. He has conducted the Yakima Chamber Orchestra (WA), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Philharmonia, the Redmond Academy of Theatre Arts, Korean Music Association Choir, Inverted Space Modern Ensemble, Everett Youth Symphony, Venicians One Theatre (Los Angeles) and the Nimbus Ensemble (Los Angeles).

Seattle Weekly described his interpretation of Beethoven’s Symphony 1 as ‘lyrically phrased’ and ‘excellent tempo’. A strong advocate of new music, he has performed regional and world premieres by Iosif Andriasov, Stepan Rostomyan, Jeff Bowen, Jon Brenner, Arshak Andriasov, Felipe Rossi, and Eleanor Aversa among others. Arakelyan conducted the Pacific Northwest premiere of Paul Hindemith Kammermuzik Nr. 1. He is a recipient of Nellie Cornish, Welland Jordan scholarships, Edward Hosharian Award, Cornish College of the Arts Performance Grant, and the first place winner of the Armenian Allied Arts Competition.

Arakelyan participated in masterclasses with notable conductors David Loebel, Frank Battisti, Donald Thulean, David Effron, Neal Stulberg, Michael Jinbo, Lawrence Golan and studied with Dr. John Roscigno and Adam Stern. His flute studies are with Paul Taub, Dr. John Barcellona, Laura Osborn, Dr. Stephen Preston, and Shigenori Kudo. Arakelyan is an alumnus of many music festivals and workshops including the Conductors Guild Workshop, Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, Idyllwild Music Festival, Seasons Festival Academy, and Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.

He has performed in the Dilijan Chamber Music Series and Rochester Iosif Andriasov Chamber Music Festival. In 2008, he played alongside Sir James Galway during his induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Arakelyan is a doctoral student and a Pre-doctoral Associate at the University of Washington under the mentorship of Maestro Ludovic Morlot and Dr. David Alexander Rahbee. Tigran is the recipient of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Performing Arts Fellowship for three consecutive years (2013, 2014, 2015).

Love Tigran’s work? Find out more on his web page: http://www.tigranarakelyan.com

©All Media Property of Tigran Arakelyan. All Rights Reserved.

Artist Spotlight: Ann Reynolds & Clave Gringa

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The passionate beat of Clave Gringa’s music comes from the heart of an artist – Ann Reynolds. Having been drawn to music at a young age she found her true voice at the National Schools for the Arts in Havana, Cuba (La ENA). Already a talented pianist and jazz artist, Ann’s creativity flourished with the vibrancy of Cuban popular music and the skilled instruction she received during her many visits to Cuba.

Clave Gringa, a band formed to showcase her original compositions, is a stunning testament to her artistry and fervor, and to the skill of the gifted musicians that help to bring her compositions to life: Daniel Barry – trumpet, Enrique (Kiki) Valera – Cuban cuatro, Dean Schmidt – bass, Pedro Vargas – timbales/percussion and Steve Smith – congas/percussion.

Each song they play tells a story, sometimes of a moment, sometimes of a lifetime. Together their songs tell the story of a culture – the story of Cuba. They bring together the emotions and history of a culture with such technical perfection that on a sunny day one feels as if they had been transported to the Caribbean. One can feel the warmth, hear the beat of the drums and see the bright flowers reaching towards an equatorial sun.

But, above all, one feels the urge to dance. Even the most stubborn wallflower will begin to sway unconsciously by the time La Chica del Malecon plays. Clave Gringa’s music unites mothers and children, siblings, and lovers – both young and old – in dance.

This is the music of love, passion and family – a story of joy, pain, commitment and survival. This is the ardor of an artist and the music of a people. This is Clave Gringa.

Clave Gringa’s upcoming performances:

Clave Gringa quartet including Kiki Valera on cuatro
Friday September 11,2015
North City Bistro – 1520 NE 177th St Shoreline, WA 98155
Cover $10
Make reservations (it sells out) – 206-365-4447 or info@northcitybistro.com

Clave Gringa quartet including Kiki Valera on cuatro
Saturday Sept 26, 2015
Waving Tree Winery – Kirkland
11901 124th St NE, Kirkland
Cover $10
Arrive early for a good seat; wine by glass or bottle available and food truck out front

Ann Reynolds with Geoff Harper – September 13, 2015 6:30-9:00pm at Serafina (2043 Eastlake Ave Seattle, WA 98102)

Ann Reynolds with Leah Pogwizd – September 27, 2015 6:30-9:00pm at Serafina (2043 Eastlake Ave Seattle, WA 98102)

Clave Gringa’s Music:

Clave Gringa’s CD Para Cuba Con Amor is available for purchase or download on clavegringa.com, cdbaby.com, Amazon and iTunes.

Clave Gringa’s Website:

Visit the Clave Gringa website (clavegringa.com) where you can learn more about Cuban music (under the Liner Notes) and find a listing of upcoming events.


Reassembling the American Dream


“Music…will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer*

The fires of hate burn hot, choking us with the thick smoke of confusion. Who can we trust when our neighbors are killing our nation’s heroes – when we are killing each other? What happened to the hope for a better life than what our ancestors left behind? Burdened with guilt and resentment from a dream shattered by fear, how does a nation reassemble the cultural pieces and resuscitate hope?

These questions have no simple answers, but I found a start – the beginning of a path – on a summer evening on a farm in Auburn, Washington. A small ensemble from the Auburn Symphony Orchestra was performing sunset chamber music that evening, and as it was July, the theme was American Heritage. A small covered stage had been set up in an open meadow surrounded by centennial trees. An antiquated barn served as a quaint backdrop for the musicians while the eager audience of about two hundred assembled on the grass with lawn chairs and picnics.

The performers began with Dvorak’s American String Quartet, a piece composed by Dvorak who, during his time in America, captured the diverse and native flavor of a newly born American culture. More than just exhibiting the perseverance of the American working class in his unique compositions, Dvorak exposed the spirit and unique voices of the Americans whose dreams, freedoms and very lives were being denied them because of hate, fear and greed. This evening the same problems faced a new generation, and they turned to the same skillful artist, whose music transcended human indecency more than a century ago, to begin their retrospective musical tour of American heritage and their search for the missing American Dream.

As the strings began with the first classic notes of Dvorak’s American String Quartet I became intrigued watching the audience. My attention first wandered to the young couple sitting in the back feasting on tofu, strawberries and cheese. The boy, who was of Asian descent, politely offered his African-American lover each Tupperware filled with cleanly prepared food before setting it aside. She thanked him with bright smiles that crinkled her nose and pushed her glasses up while she swayed happily back and forth to the rhythm of the music.

A little further forward sat a family of women, three generations, from the grandmother to the granddaughters. They all sat straight and tall, even on the ground. Each daughter’s jet-black hair was cut into a perfect bob. All eyes were focused on the stage. Next to them, a woman sat in a wheelchair near a picnic table. She also sat up straight and proud. But in addition to her pride, she also wore a benevolent smile as a permanent accessory.

Lying back as the strings finished their final notes, I looked up at the sky framed by trees. A group of birds high in the treetops were arguing and flying about. They were frequently in time with the music, however, so I imagined it was a bird ballet just for me. All too soon, the piece was over, and the dancers were once again bickering birds.

Next was played a compilation of American folk music by a bass and violin. The music had an international twist that left one wanting to belly dance in a barn with a rabbi. The piece was met with smiles all around. A little girl in front of me with porcelain hands like a doll, accented by a small beaded bracelet and a white bow nestled in golden curls giggled and twirled to the Arabian Nights’ twist on Oh! Susannah! The giggles were not reserved for the children, however; a woman of considerable age, sitting in an American flag lawn chair, with perfectly permed hair and the face of a fairy godmother, giggled along with the four-year-old child beside her.

Sadly, intermission was soon upon us, and the music ceased for a time. I seized the opportunity to explore the farm. I discovered that the Mary Olson farm has been a cradle of American hope since its birth in 1879. Converted from a logging mill, it was purchased by Swedish immigrants Alford and Mary Olson.

The Olsons, and their children after them, maintained the more than sixty-acre subsistence farm until the death of the Olson’s last surviving child, Anna, in 1971 – ninety-three years after the Olsons first purchased it. During that time the family had survived four wars (WWI, WWII, The Korean War and the Vietnam War), the Great Depression, 19 presidents and an unprecedented shift in technology. While the family stubbornly maintained the agrarian lifestyle they were accustomed to, they did not embody the conservative isolationist stereotype usually associated with generationally rural families.

Pictures and remains of buildings show that during WWII, when Japanese-Americans were being shipped to camps because of national fear, the Olsons showed compassion. Many of these families were forced out of their homes with nowhere to store their belongings. Everything they owned and had worked for was lost to them. When they returned they would be forced to start all over – every precious memory and heirloom gone forever. The Olsons provided storage for Japanese-American neighbors so that these Americans could maintain hope that they still had a life and a dream to come back to. The same dream the Olsons came from Sweden in search of.

After 1971, the City of Auburn eventually purchased the farm and it is now a renovated historical site where community members can explore local history. But the farm is not just about history. New memories, new stories and new hope are still being created there. A hope I had been witnessing in the eyes of the captivated audience of all ages and backgrounds as they shared in the pleasures of the “universal language”, and a hope I continued to witness as the 1812 Overture began after intermission. A musician dressed like Mark Twain had attached balloons to the front of the stage and was now brandishing a cowbell and a popgun. As the overture reached its inevitable and infamous climax he rang the bell to the delight and laughter of the whole crowd, and then, with the help of a nervous assistant, began popping balloons to simulate cannon-fire.

While this pleased everyone present, one person was particularly enjoying herself. A little girl got up and began to dance in the open grass throwing her arms into the air and spinning around in circles. She had neither dark skin nor white and her beautiful walnut hair flared gracefully as she spun. She smiled without reserve and danced as if everyone was about to join her.

As the performers moved into their final gentle farewell piece the girl disappeared back into the peaceful crowd. Sitting in the grassy field, watching the dragonflies bounce about in the twilight, my head resting on my husband’s warm chest as I listened to the haunting refrain of the strings as they bade adieu, I caught an illusive glimpse of that shattered national hope. Thinking back to that girl, the daughter of love between two races, dancing fearlessly to Russian music augmented by balloons and a cowbell on the farm of Swedish immigrants – I thought that surely this must be the true American Dream.

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German citizen that lived during WWII. He was executed shortly before the end of the war for his participation in plans to assassinate Hitler.

About Auburn Symphony Orchestra (From ASO Webpage):

In 1996, Conductor and Music Director Stewart Kershaw assembled a talented group of regional musicians to form a symphony orchestra. The fully professional Auburn Symphony has become one of the most acclaimed orchestras in the Northwest with its core of musicians from the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra. Each year, the orchestra performs symphony programs and chamber ensemble concerts for classical music lovers from throughout King and Pierce Counties and beyond.

To Learn More about the Auburn Symphony Orchestra or to attend a performance click here: http://auburnsymphony.org.

Upcoming Sunset Concerts at Mary Olson’s Farm:

Magical Strings: Thursday July 23, 7pm

Cellists of Auburn Symphony Orchestra: Thursday August 6, 7pm


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