LOS ANGELES–Michael Hrair Arshagouni, musicologist, conductor and composer, was recently elected Chair of the Department of Music at Los Angeles Valley College. He assumes this new position with a breadth of experience in academia and performance. At LAVC, Dr. Arshagouni was also appointed Chair of the College’s Study Away Committee, which sponsors international study in France, Italy, and Mexico. In addition, he oversaw the development and implementation of the Music Department’s Applied Lessons program.
Dr. Arshagouni’s scholarly work focuses on opera of the later 18th century. His research explores the development of the aria from the mid-century onwards, and the music of Mozart and his contemporaries. He has published articles and reviews and has participated in numerous national and international conferences devoted to the music of this period. In addition, Dr. Arshagouni has presented his scholarship investigating the choral music of Handel and the influences of the music of the Caucasus on Russian romantic composers.
In his performance endeavors, Dr. Arshagouni embraces the overriding principle of discovering and, where possible, recreating the composer’s intentions. His approach begins with musicology and the study of original sources when available to fully inform his interpretation of the music. With a repertoire ranging from renaissance to contemporary music, he enjoys a particular affinity for Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and early romantic composers and in twentieth-century music that embraces neo-baroque and neo-classical ideas.
His concerts throughout the United States include a special invitation to perform at the National Cathedral, Washington, DC, highlighted by interpretations of traditional Armenian sharagans and his own compositions. Performances in Europe and Japan include competitions and a special performance for the current Emperor of Japan. He recently conducted Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Clarinet Concerto in A, K.622, Haydn’s Symphony No.59 “Feuersymphonie”, and Faur?’s Requiem. For a special performance of Beethoven’s great Symphony No.9 in d, Op.125 “Choral” he prepared the chorus of singers from across southern California. The works he will direct during the upcoming year include Schubert’s monumental Mass in E-flat and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23 in A, K.488.
Dr. Arshagouni received his graduate and undergraduate education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), from which he holds a Ph.D. in music (musicology), M.F.A. in conducting (choral), and B.A. in music, and at the Royal College of Music, London (RCM). He studied musicology under the tutelage of Marie-Louise G?llner, Frank D’Accone and Robert Winter. In performance, he studied conducting under Donn Weiss, William Hatcher, and Thomas Hilbisch at UCLA; Peter Phillips, Norman Del Mar, CBE, and Sir David Wilcocks at RCM, and with Christopher Hogwood, CBE. He has rehearsed choirs for performances under the batons of Carlo Maria Giulini, Mehli Mehta, and Nicholas McGegan, among others.
Currently, Dr. Arshagouni directs the LAVC Philharmonic Choir, a community choir that rehearses on Tuesday nights. He invites all persons with an interest in singing to audition and perform the great choral masterworks (please call 818-947-2350 for information). Prior to his work at LAVC, Dr. Arshagouni was named Director of Choral Activities at Lyon College (Batesville, AR), held positions at LA City College, Mt. San Antonio College and Saddleback College, and served as Assistant Conductor of the UCLA Madrigal Singers, Concert Choir, and Men’s Glee. As founding director of both the Orpheus Singers and the Capriccio Ensemble, he presented innovative concerts in historic venues throughout Los Angeles, including the Powell Library Rotunda, UCLA. He has guest conducted the Hamazkayin Choir and choirs at Coventry Cathedral and RCM, and has worked with the Woking Chamber Orchestra and the Royal College of Music Sinfonia.
Believing strongly that established professionals should mentor and guide those seeking to develop their musical abilities, Dr. Arshagouni maintains a schedule of adjudicating workshops and competitions. An avid scholar and composer, Dr. Arshagouni continues his service to the American Musicological Society as Vice-President and Program Chair of the Pacific Southwest Chapter. He is a founding member of the Mozart Society of America and a member of the American Choral Director’s Association. He brings to his numerous choral motets and songs and his articles on music the mind of a scholar and the passion of a performer.