Aram Demirjian, conductor
Aram Demirjian is rapidly distinguishing himself in the orchestral world for his dynamic and expressive presence on the podium and magnetic rapport with audiences of all musical backgrounds. Lauded for his “clear and graceful command” (Harvard Crimson) and “skillful, exciting spirit” (KC Metropolis), Mr. Demirjian is devoted to creating strong connections between orchestras and audiences through innovative and versatile programming and a commitment to education for concert-goers of all ages.
As Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony (KCS), Mr. Demirjian conducts over 60 performances each season, including the Family, Education and Pops series, in Kansas City’s acoustically superb new Helzberg Hall. In his first season, he designed and launched the widely acclaimed Classics Uncorked series, which presents weeknight classical concerts, enhancing the concert hall experience with thematic programming, visual elements, musical demonstrations and audience interaction. These programs have earned effusive praise for their fun, casual atmosphere and diverse repertoire selection, attracting thousands of first-time and long-time patrons who specifically credit Mr. Demirjian’s ability to connect with audiences. Mr. Demirjian also was instrumental in starting the KCS’s wildly popular Screenland at the Symphony series, combining classics movies with a live soundtrack from the orchestra.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Demirjian has appeared with the Memphis Symphony, New England Conservatory Symphony and the Boston Pops. The 2014/15 season will include appearances at the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, his KCS subscription debut featuring Debussy’s La Mer and pianist Joyce Yang, and three performances of the complete Handel’s Messiah, featuring the Kansas City Symphony Chorus and Independence Messiah Choir.
A frequent collaborator with an eclectic array of the most distinguished musicians and performers in the world, Mr. Demirjian has shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Silk Road Ensemble, Kurt Masur, John Adams, pianist Robert Levin, violinists Stefan Jackiw and Ryu Goto, jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson, actor John Lithgow and singer-songwriter/composer Ben Folds. In 2013 he served as offstage conductor for Maestro Christoph von Dohnányi’s performances of Mahler, Symphony No. 2 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has been engaged as cover conductor by the Boston Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony and Charlotte Symphony and was a conducting apprentice of Harry Christophers with the Handel & Haydn Society.
Mr. Demirjian is a frequent fixture at some of the most distinguished music festivals and competitions in the world. As a three-time Conducting Fellow in the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, he studied intensively with music director Robert Spano, and guest instructors Hugh Wolff and Larry Rachleff. In 2011, the Aspen Music Festival recognized Mr. Demirjian’s work by awarding him the Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize, a distinction given to only one conductor annually. That same year, he won Third Prize in the Memphis Symphony International Conducting Competition. In 2013, Mr. Demirjian participated in the Tanglewood Music Center Conducting Seminar and was a Bruno Walter Memorial Scholar at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.
A passionate advocate for music education, Mr. Demirjian recently conducted the Massachusetts All State Orchestra in Boston’s historic Symphony Hall. With the KCS, he scripts and conducts original Education concerts for nearly 30,000 grade school students annually, including an annual Writing Challenge in which students submit letters and essays relating to the topics of the concerts they attend. He is also active in the Carnegie Hall Link Up© program, which provides training on recorder for thousands of Kansas City elementary students. Mr. Demirjian frequently collaborates with the Youth Symphony of Kansas City and conducts annual readings of orchestral works by doctoral composers from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. In 2011/12, he served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, where he founded and conducted the String Repertory Orchestra.
Equally at ease in the opera pit as on the podium, Mr. Demirjian has served as music director of Lowell House Opera, New England’s oldest opera company, leading the company’s first-ever production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. In 2010, he produced and conducted a performance of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with musicians from the Boston area as part of the Partners in Health charitable venture, “Symphonic Relief for Haiti.” As an undergraduate at Harvard University, he presented a semi-staged production of Aaron Copland’s rarely-performed The Tender Land.
Mr. Demirjian is of full Armenian descent and is highly engaged in the Armenian arts community, having been a featured artist in the 59th Armenian Night at Pops and in multiple gala events for the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). He is an AGBU Performing Arts Scholar.
Mr. Demirjian holds the distinction of being one of only two conductors selected for the inaugural class of the Orchestral Conducting program at New England Conservatory, where he studied with Hugh Wolff and earned his Master of Music. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in music and government from Harvard University, where his conducting career began with a two-year appointment as music director of the Harvard Bach Society Orchestra.