LANSING, Mich. — Violinist Samvel Arakelyan has travelled a long way away from his childhood days in Yerevan.
The 35-year-old classically-trained musician came to the United States about 10 years ago to attend Michigan State University. Now he is receiving his doctorate in music from the same school and has already embarked on a career of excellence in his chosen field.
Arakelyan’s mother used to sing in a choir, and she wanted her children to take music lessons. Around 6th grade, Arakelyan realized he wanted to pursue music as a career. He attended the Ghazaros Saryan elementary school for the arts and then secondary school at the Tchaikovsky Special Music School, both in Yerevan. Among his memories are being selected as a child from the Saryan school and taken to play a piece with the famous composer Edvard Mirzoyan. At age 17, he was accepted to the Komitas Conservatory. After graduation, he performed with the Conservatory State Symphony Orchestra and the Yerevan Symphony Orchestra.
Coming to America
At age 25, Arakelyan came to the United States for further musical training at Michigan State University (MSU), at which point he was introduced to Metro Detroit’s large and vibrant Armenian community as well as the strong classical music scene throughout the state of Michigan. He won a concerto competition at MSU, playing Edvard Mirzoyan’s “Introduction and Perpetuum Mobile” with the Michigan State Symphony Orchestra. The video of this recital, still viewable on YouTube, displays Arakelyan’s impeccable technique in a piece which to even the most casual viewer is clearly virtuosic. Most recently, he defended his doctoral dissertation on Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D Major by performing the piece on April 30.
Arakelyan is an able performer and vigorous promoter of the great Armenian classical composers of the 20th century – names like Khachaturian, Babajanian, Aroutiunian, Saryan, and Komitas. A favorite is Babajanian’s Violin Concerto. “It’s less known, but it’s a very beautiful piece,” Arakelyan says. “I am always interested to see which orchestras are interested in performing it.”