The first time clarinetist Narek Arutyunian performed in Boston in June.
The sold-out performance was praised by those attending and Arutyunian seemed to find a fan in Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, Armenian Mirror Spectator reports.
Preternaturally confident, the Gyumri-born Arutyunian, 20, dazzled with his ease on stage and off. Of course, the admiration was mutual, as he was thrilled to play with the Pops. “I have never played with such a [top] name orchestra,” he said.
He is going to return to Boston on September 23, to perform at the Isabella Gardner Museum at 1:30 p.m., accompanied by pianist Solon Gordon. The program will include works by Bernstein and Schumann, among others.
Arutyunian is currently living in New York, studying at the Juilliard School with Charles Neidich. He started playing the clarinet rather late, around age 9, but that certainly did not stop him from mastering it and winning many prestigious awards along the short time he has performed
“When I was 8 or 9, my mom noticed that I have a good sense of rhythm. She hired music teacher after music teacher, all of whom suggested that he study music on a full-time basis,” he said.
He next attended the Moscow Conservatory at age 17 for one year, before leaving for Queens College in New York, and then Juilliard, which he entered with a full scholarship.
Arutyunian confessed sheepishly that he would have gotten into Juilliard when he first applied when he was a student in the Moscow Conservatory, had he not performed disastrously on his Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam.
He has performed as a soloist with the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra; with conductors Vladimir Spivakov, Alexander Rudin, Alexander Apolin, Vladimir Fedoseev, Misha Rakhlevsky, Yuri Bashmet and Saulous Sondeckis; and in Poland, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Canada, Czech Republic and at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, in a tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich in October 2008.
While Arutyunian wants to be the absolute top classical clarinetist in the world, he is also eager to practice his skills in jazz, performing works by Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman, among other American jazz giants.