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The Middle Eastern Festival Brings Tigran Hamasyan to Berklee

The Signature Series at Berklee continues on March 8 with the ninth annual Berklee Middle Eastern Festival. This year’s edition features the music of Armenian pianist and composer Tigran Hamasyan. The event brings together guest artists, community musicians, Berklee students, visual artists, and dancers from all over the world to celebrate the music of the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Mediterranean.

The Berklee Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble, directed by festival founder Christiane Karam, associate professor of voice, will perform some of Hamasyan’s most celebrated works spanning his prolific and diverse career. The concert will also include excerpts from his choral album Lyus i Luso, which will be performed by the Pletenitsa Balkan Choir, also led by Karam. The Berklee World Strings, led by Grammy Award-winning Berklee Professor Eugene Friesen, will perform as well.

Hamasyan will present a solo set, performing selections from his upcoming album, An Ancient Observer.

“Hamasyan has inspired millions of people around the world. His energy, unique approach to blending seemingly unrelated musical influences, and his incredible skills make him a force to be reckoned with,” said Karam. “On a personal note, having Armenian roots myself, I find that his reverence for Armenia and the traditions he comes from are conveyed very strongly in his musical voice and give it an undeniable soulfulness. It’s truly a privilege having him with us.”

Known for melding jazz, folk, progressive rock, and classical forms, Hamasyan has established himself as one of the most innovative artists of his age. His career has included an impressive number of accolades, including top piano award at the 2013 Montreux Jazz Festival, and the grand prize at the 2006 Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano Competition. In 2015, Hamasyan garnered the Paul Acket Award at the North Sea Jazz Festival and, in 2016, he earned the Echo Jazz Award (the German Grammy) for International Instrumentalist of the Year, Piano, for his album Mockroot. An Ancient Observer is his second solo album for Nonesuch Records, and his eighth overall as a leader.

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