As Ara Malikian journeys around the world on tour, he finds his career culminating with a debut performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Tuesday, December 20, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. Malikian is a world-renowned Spanish violinist of Lebanese origin and Armenian descent.
He has been playing violin since his childhood in Beirut, inspired and encouraged by his father, who also was a violinist. His musical talents were recognized at an early age despite the circumstances in which he was forced to endure during the Lebanese Civil War, studying for long periods of time in bomb shelters. He gave his first big concert when he was just 12 years old. Three years later, he became the youngest student admitted to the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media in Germany; he continued his studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. Malikian eventually grew tired of his academic studies. “I started learning and experimenting on my own. I think I learned more in my journeys and encounters with other musicians, different styles and different countries,” said Malikian, who has been living in Madrid for over two decades. “The place I learned the most was around the world,” he told the Weekly.
Through his exploration, Malikian has incorporated a number of styles into his music. His musical influences include Paganini, his violin “idol,” as well as Bach, Brahms and Schubert. From his classical training, he expanded into other styles including jazz, gypsy music, flamenco, Latin and other world music. Armenian music, he says, is ingrained in his soul. “Armenian music and Armenian culture are part of me. I have heard Armenian music since I was born,” he said. “You can hear Armenia in me, in my music. Although sometimes it is not very Armenian, you can always hear that something in it is Armenian. It comes out all the time.” In both his live performances and recorded music, there is a palpable depth of connection to the culture inherently embedded with every draw of the bow across the violin strings.
The incorporation of these many different styles has led Malikian to compose his own music. While the harmonic structure of his music may have classical influences, the rhythmic structure often comes from world music. During composition, Malikian keeps in mind how a piece will sound on stage and how it will feel to play. He describes his original music as “very alive, very virtuoso…taking advantage of all the violin has.” “I let myself lose myself. I can start composing in a style and then I finish in a completely different style. I like to be inspired by whatever comes. I’m not very critical about respecting all the laws of composing and styles,” he explained. Rather than isolating or retreating, Malikian finds inspiration from the world around him, including friends, family, his son and his travels.
Malikian’s international tour is inspired by his life experiences. “This tour is the result of watching my son grow. It is the result of my growth by his side. It is all those sounds and melodies that try to shape what I have felt and have inspired me from him and from life through him,” Malikian eloquently describes in his tour press materials. “It is an encounter with the child that I could not be and would have dreamed of being. It is a tribute to those beings who are as free as a free bird. This tour is full of dinosaurs, robotic squid, time machines, flying pianos and bilingual mimes. This tour is what I had forgotten, and that is so powerful.”
In addition to this magical description, Malikian is adamant about connecting with his audience. “Our concerts are always very dynamic. I like to be intimate with the audience,” he explained. “Every piece I play, I like to explain the story of the piece in a very easy way. I like to feel that the public is very close to me and I would like to feel close to the audience.”
All of his travels, experiences and numerous musical accomplishments have led to his debut at Carnegie Hall. “All my violinist idols have performed at Carnegie Hall. It’s part of the history of music, so being able to stand on the stage of Carnegie Hall is exciting for me,” Malikian reflected.
He will be joined on stage by Iván “Melón” Lewis on piano, Iván Ruiz Machado on bass, Georvis Pico Milán on drums and Dayan Abad on guitar. The combination of hard work and unapologetic individuality have brought Malikian to this moment, and he encourages young artists to focus on the same. “It is very important to have discipline, to fall in love with what you are doing, and to dedicate 100-percent of your time and your passion,” he stressed. “But also, if I had to advise something, it’s always believe in your own personality. Don’t rely on anybody else to show you the way. I think you know better than anybody the best way you can succeed.”