Ara Topouzian was born in Detroit in 1969 and as a child, sat in with his first Armenian band, the Vosbikian Band, one of the country’s most popular Armenian groups at the time. He played cornet while at school and the def (a circular frame-style drum) after school with Armenian ensembles. In college, he became more interested in Armenian and Middle Eastern classical and folk music and learned dumbek (another Middle Eastern drum), kanun (a form of zither) and Duduk (Armenian oboe).
Performing with a local Armenian band, Topouzian eventually branched out and began performing as a solo and ensemble musician throughout the Midwest and East Coast. In 1991, in order to record and preserve Armenian, Arabic and other forms of traditional music, Topouzian formed American Recording Productions. To date, his record label has produced over thirty recordings of Armenian, Middle Eastern, Bulgarian and Greek music. In 1995, he received a commission from the Red Cross's Armenian Relief Society for an album which benefited a prenatal clinic located amidst Armenia's earthquake devastation. The resulting album, For the Children of Armenia, raised money that was then donated to the clinic in the name of Topouzian's late mother.
Topouzian’s music has been featured in several nationally-aired PBS documentaries that have been aired nationwide, including The Armenian Americans, in 2000. Topouzian has frequently collaborated with oudists Dick Barsamian and Joe Zeytoonian, among others, and has performed with such notable musicians as George Mgrdichian, Onnik Dinkjian, Mal Barsamian, John Berberian, Joe Zeytoonian, James Stoynoff and the Chicago Immigrant Orchestra.
Highlights in Topouzian 's career include a performance in 2010 with the world music ensemble, In Transit, at Detroit Orchestra Hall, and earlier this year, he performed an original concerto written for kanun as a guest soloist with the Virginia Commonwealth University Orchestra. Topouzian twice has been honored by the Armenian Music Awards, winning Best Traditional Album in 2000 and Best Traditional Instrumental Album in 2001. In addition to performing, he teaches workshops for both children and adults demonstrating various Armenian and Middle Eastern instruments and folk music.
Visit Ara's web site at: http://aratopouzian.com