How did Ara Malikian start playing the violin?
Ara Malikian (born in Beirut, 1968) is a Spanish violinist of Lebanese origins and Armenian descent. A classic rock star, like many Armenian men, who have contributed to their nation and the memory of his ancestors by recording a documentary titled “Una vida entre las cuerdas” (A life Among Strings), in which he recalls the Armenian Genocide and the war in Lebanon. The movie is named “Best Documentary Movie” by GOYA awards for 2020.
He started out playing the violin at an early age under his father´s guidance. His talent was quickly recognized regardless of the hard circumstances he was forced to leave as a consequence of the Lebanese civil war.
He performed his first important concert at the age of twelve and, at the age of fourteen, orchestra director Hans Herbert-Jöris listened to him and got him a scholarship given by the German Government to study at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hannover. At the age of 15, he achieved to be the youngest admitted student in this well-regarded superior music center.
He widened his knowledge and studies afterward at Guildhall School of Music and Drama of London and, also received lessons by some of the greatest and more prestigious teachers in the world as Franco Gulli, Ruggiero Ricci, Ivry Gitlis, Herman Krebbers or some members of the Alban Berg Quartet.
What, where, with and under whom did Ara Malikian play?
As a performer, he possesses a wide repertoire which includes almost the whole catalog of great works written for violin (concerts with orchestras, sonatas and works written for piano or chamber music). He released masterpieces written by contemporary composers like Franco Donatoni, Malcolm Lipkin, Luciano Chailly, Ladislav Kupkovic, Loris Tjeknavorian or Lawrence Romany Yervand Yernakian.
As a solo violinist he has been invited by great musical groups as the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Genoa Opera Orquesta, Madrid Symphony Orchestra, Portugal Symphony Orchestra, Tubing Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Virtuosi, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, Toulouse Chamber Orchestra or the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra.
He played under the direction of such important directors like Mariss Janssons, Peter Maag, Jesús López Cobos, Vladimir Spivakov, Miguel Ángel Gómez Martínez, Luis Antonio García Navarro, Vassili Sinaisky, Edmond de Stoltz, Gudni Emilson, Juan José Mena, Jo-Ann Falleta, Pedro Halffter, Alejandro Posada, Cristóbal Halffter or Salvador Brotons.
He also played in the most important concert halls of the world in more than 40 countries from the five continents. New York (Carnegie Hall), Paris (Salle Pleyel), Vienna (Musikverein), Toronto (Ford Center), Madrid (National Auditory and Royal Theatre), Zurich (Tonhalle), London (Barbican Centre) or Cádiz (Gran Teatro Falla).
Contests Prizes and Awards
His quality and level as a violinist have been recognized in numerous world-class contests, highlights included as the prizes won at international contests like Felix Mendelssohn (1987, Berlín, Germany) or Pablo Sarasota (1995, Pamplona, Spain).
He also won several awards in different contests like Niccolo Paganini (Genoa), Zino Francescatti (Marseille), Rodolfo Lipizer (Glorizia), Musical Youth (Belgrade), Rameau (Le Mans), International Artist Guild (New York) and the International Music Competition of Japan (Tokyo).
In 1993, he received the Artistic Compliance and Dedication Award, given by the German Ministry of Culture. He has also been given the “Best Musical Composition in Scene Spectacle MAX Award for Performing Arts “ (La Lucha Libre Vuelve al Price,2011) and has been twice award-winning at Music Awards in the category of New Musics Best Album (De la felicidad,2006) and Best Classical Music Performer (Ínsula Poética,2007). In 2013, his own orchestra “La Orquesta en el Tejado” was premiered at the Spanish Theatre in Madrid. Ara Malikian has a wide discography.
He recorded the most distinguished pieces for violin with Warner Spain:
-24 Capricci per Violino solo Niccolo Paganini (2003),
-An album with works by Sarasate (2003) accompanied by Armenian pianist Serouj Kradjian,
-The Six Sonata for solo violin by Ysaÿe (2003),
-The complete Sonatas& Partitas for violin by Johann Sebastian Bach (2003)
-The Four Seasons by Vivaldi (2004).
He also recorded Manantial (2002/2004) and De la felicidad(2005) accompanied by flamenco guitarist José Luis Montón.
He has registered music by Fernando Egózcue which can be found in the albums Lejos (2007) and Con los ojos cerrados (2011).
Among his most recent albums, we can find: The concert for violin and Aram Khachaturian Orchestra (2008) accompanied by Extremadura Symphony Orchestra and directed by Jesús Amigo, Romantic Spanish Violin Concerts (2010) with the Castilla y León Symphony Orchestra, directed by Alejandro Posada with tracks from Bretón y Monasterio, the album No Seasons (2010)accompanied by the Non-Profit Music Chamber Orchestra, where the Porteño Four Seasons by Piazzolla are collected, Christmas Mood (2011) in which he performs 11 Christmas set pieces or Pizzicato (2013) which includes some of his performances for the TVE show “Pizzicato”.
15 (2015), a concert recorded at the Royal Theatre of Madrid with which he celebrates his 15 years living in Spain and summarizes every single show he has been touring with for the last 15 years.
his last three albums are :
2016: The Incredible Story of Violin
2017: Symphonic at Las Ventas (Live)
2019: Royal garage
Ara Malikian has always shown a very special interest in endearing music to every audience, either classical or not. From 2006, he cooperates with Non-Profit Music Foundation and the composer Jorge Grundman (Madrid) in order to create the Non-Profit Music Chamber Music Orchestra, dedicated to spreading the work of contemporary composers within the so-called New Consonant Music. As a result of this cooperation, we can already find works like Tears of Beauty (2006) and Meeting with a friend (2007).
He created and co-produced the show PaGAGnini (2008) along the Yllana Company, a humorous and theatrical review of top classical music pieces composed by renowned composers like Sarasota, Manuel de Falla, Luigi Boccherini, Johan Pachelbel, Shigeru Umebayashi, Mozart, Serge Gainsbourg and Paganini.
He was involved in the production and creation of a concert for familiar audiences Tales of the World: The story of a happy man (2009) as well as the show My First Four Seasons, a dramatized version of the Four Seasons by Vivaldi, which currently keeps on tour. Since 2010 he is one of the hosts in the youthful Tv Show by TVE El Club del Pizzicato, dedicated to the spreading of classical music among children and teenagers.
He has created several shows that have become long and successful tours, like Vivaldi´s Eight Seasons (2011), Piazzolla (2011) and Capricci for Violin and Body (2011), directed by Marisol Rozo, The Divines (2012) co-produced with José Manuel Zapata. He is currently on tour with the following shows: 15, My first four seasons, and two duet performances, one with José Luis Montón and another with Fernando Egozcue.
Collaborations with other artists
An inexhaustible musical and human inquisitiveness have made Ara Malikian delve into his own Armenian roots and assimilate the music created in other cultures from Middle East (Arabic and Jewish), Centre Europe (Gypsi and Klutzier), Argentina (Tango) and Spain (Flamenco), always showing a great own language with the virtuosity and expressivity of the great classic European tradition.
He premiered the concert Músicas Cíngaras (2009) which brings together melodies from different countries that have been musically influenced by the travel made by the Gypsies from India to Spain. He also co-produced the show Payo Bach(2011) accompanied by the flamenco guitarist José Luis Montón.
Ara Malikian has collaborated with Lebanese singer Fairuz, flamenco dancers Joaquín Cortes and Belén Maya in New Tango Ensemble and with jazz pianist Horacio Icasto among others. He has taken part in several albums by Extremoduro like La Ley Innata (2008), Material Defectuoso (2011) and Para todos Los Publicos (2014) and in Ambrosia (2014), an album made by Juan Antonio Valderrama.
What about the big screen
There is another side in Ara Malikian´s career, his work has been requested by different top motion pictures music composers like Alberto Iglesias, for whom he recorded the original soundtrack for Hablé con ella (2002) and La mala educación (2005) by Pedro Almodóvar or Pascal Gainge for El otro barrio (2000) by Salvador García Ruiz. And he has also taken part in the original soundtracks for the films Manolito Gafotas (1999), Los pasos perididos (2001) and Pájaros de papel (2010).
Besides, Ara Malikian is a standing world-famous personality, a quality that allows him to cooperate with projects aimed to improve the life of the most disadvantaged people every single time he is able to do it, especially when it comes to kids. He is annually collaborating with NGO “Action against Hunger”
For more info about his latest concerts click here.
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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2017, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.