Photo credit: Harout Barsoumian/AGBU 2019
ŞAHAN ARZRUNI'S STORY
In addition to his reputation as a recitalist and chamber music partner, pianist ŞAHAN ARZRUNI (🔊listen) has achieved recognition as a composer, ethnomusicologist, teacher, lecturer, writer, recording artist, broadcasting personality, producer, and impresario. He has toured in these capacities throughout North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and Australia. Arzruni has become a familiar figure through many television broadcasts, such as Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas Shows. He has been featured in a number of PBS specials – Around the World in ‘82, Gala of Stars, and A Place of Dreams: Carnegie Hall at 100 – and has recorded for international radio networks, including the BBC. Mr. Arzruni has performed at the White House and given command performances in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweeden, and Iceland.
Motivated by ethnic awareness in the United States, Arzruni continuously researches the musical roots of his Armenian heritage. He recorded a three-record anthology of Armenian piano music and co-produced an eight-disc set of instrumental and vocal Armenian music. He also delivered papers and organized symposia for such institutions as Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Şahan Arzruni is the author of scholarly books and a contributor of articles for academic journals; he has also written for various editions of The New Grove Dictionary and the Dictionary of the Middle Ages.
An artist of striking versatility, Şahan Arzruni has performed with Victor Borge, playing the role of a straight man in the master’s hilarious musical programs. As a teenage writer, he authored a textbook on music in his native Istanbul. As a performer, he recorded many albums featuring twentieth-century works intended for younger pianists. Arzruni also hosted a radio program on New York’s Municipal Broadcasting System for five years, addressing issues concerned with the didactics of piano playing.
A Steinway Artist, he was invited to perform on an 1869 Steinway piano at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the inaugural of the centennial celebrations of the Museum’s collection of historic instruments. In 2001, Mr. Arzruni delivered a lecture on Armenian liturgical chants at the invitation of the U.S. Library of Congress, in Washington D.C. In 1996, he received from His Holiness Karekin I an encyclical and the Sts. Sahak and Mesrob Medallion. in 2016, the President of the Republic of Armenia awarded him the Movses Khorenatsi Medal for exceptional achievement in cultural development.
On the occasion of Aram Khachaturian’s Centennial in 2003, Şahan Arzruni was appointed the full-fledged representative of Armenia’s Ministry of Culture in the Diaspora. In 2007, to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Armenian National Hospital of Istanbul, he was asked to produce cultural events to mark the occasion. In 2010, through an arrangement with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he presented a number of concerts, including a program at Van University on the eve of the inaugural Divine Liturgy to take place at the Holy Cross Armenian Church of Aghtamar.
In 2013, Mr. Arzruni’s performance of Khachaturian was selected by the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Culture for inclusion in a special set of recordings marking the very best of Armenian musical talent. In 2017 and 2019, Şahan Arzruni became the first artist of the diaspora to travel Armenia’s provinces and the capital of Nagorno-Karabagh on a teaching and performance tour.
During the present pandemic, Mr. Arzruni started a web series, “Together for Armenia,” featuring various artists from all over the world, joining them on the piano, on occasion, from his New York apartment.
Mr. Arzruni holds degrees from The Juilliard School and has pursued doctoral studies at New York University. He records for New World Records, Composers Recordings, Inc., Musical Heritage Society, Hearts of Space, Philips, Varèse-Sarabande, Good Music, Positively Armenian, and Kalan Music.