For forty years, pianist/composer and Fulbright Scholar ARMEN DONELIAN has distinguished himself in 23 countries as a performer, recording artist, master class leader, and with his published writings. Donelian’s music is a distinctive blend of influences including his Armenian origin, his Classical technique, and his association with some of the biggest names in Jazz. And, according to Metronom, he achieves this fusion “in such a natural way that one can tell it’s a master’s work.”
As a child, Armen absorbed the sound of Armenian, Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern music at social gatherings and from records his father played at home.
During his youth, Armen trained for 12 years as a concert pianist at the Westchester Conservatory of Music in White Plains, NY with the late Michael Pollon. His studies included regular solo piano recitals and several concertos with local symphonies, and culminated in a 1968 graduation recital including works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Prokofiev.
At about 15, Donelian joined a Jazz group led by guitarist Arthur Ryerson, Sr., and things were never quite the same after that. Captivated by the Jazz feeling, he began listening to Jazz masters like Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
After graduating from Columbia University in 1972, Donelian apprenticed for two years with Richie Beirach, one of the strongest pianists in New York. He learned how to meld his Classical training with his instinct for Jazz improvisation and composition.