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Boise Philharmonic conductor search: Up first, Aram Demirjian

Conductor Aram Demirjian is in Boise this week to perform with the Boise Philharmonic and kick off its music director search. Demirjian, 30, is the first of seven candidates who will lead the orchestra this season. You can see him perform on Friday, Sept. 30, in Nampa and Saturday, Oct. 1, in Boise.
Conductor Aram Demirjian is in Boise this week to perform with the Boise Philharmonic and kick off its music director search. Demirjian, 30, is the first of seven candidates who will lead the orchestra this season. You can see him perform on Friday, Sept. 30, in Nampa and Saturday, Oct. 1, in Boise.

Aram Demirjian grew up on the outskirts of Boston in Watertown, Mass., a thriving Armenian community. He started playing cello at 8, and by 14, he already was on his journey to becoming a conductor.

“I was so fascinated by the phenomenon of the orchestra — all the moving parts, the energy going into different musical lines — all in service of a greater musical harmony,” Demirjian says. “It quickly became clear I wasn’t going to be satisfied just playing my part.”

Demirjian’s career has been fast and furious. At 30, Demirjian is a highly sought after guest conductor. He’s been an associate conductor of the Kansas City Symphony and now heads the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, a group that is similar in size to the Boise Phil. And he also is a finalist this season for the artistic director position at the Fresno Philharmonic.

Music’s power to communicate drives him.

“The part of the music I love the most is the way it can bring people together — the synergy created by great music and great people,” Demirjian says.

He is the first of seven candidates auditioning this season for the Boise Philharmonic’s music director position. (Robert Franz left last season after eight years with the Boise Phil.) Each candidate gets a turn to lead the orchestra this season, performing a program based around a concerto centerpiece. Link to more stories about the conductor search here..

The first rehearsal is a getting-to-know-you festival. You really want to let the orchestra play.

Aram Demirjian, Boise Philharmonic music director candidate

Demirjian has been in Boise all week, meeting with board and community members and working with the musicians and piano soloist Andrew von Oeyen, who will play Tc haikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Demirjian and the orchestra.

The Program

“Personally with any program I create, I like there to be a through line, some connection between the pieces, whether it’s historical or thematic or narrative,” Demirjian says. “The idea that kind of runs though this program is the idea of dance.”

Dvorak: Scherzo capriccioso

“I wanted to begin the season with a bang and something festive,” Demirjian says. “I learned the orchestra had not played the Dvorak Scherzo capriccioso in a long time. Dvorak is known for this Slavic dances and tonally and energy wise the capriccioso is a dance in that style but it’s large, over 12 minutes.”

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 and Stravinsky: ‘The Firebird’ suite

The Tchaikovsky, actually has the least to do with dance, but it is in there,” he says. “And because Russian composers go well together it fell in with a dance piece by a Russian — Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” suite (that was written for the ballet).”

Schachter: ‘Five-Six-Seven-Eight’

The Stravinsky will end the program but it isn’t quite long enough to fill a full half. So, Demirjian paired it with a Michael Schachter piece, which at 8 minutes, fills out the length, he says.

“I’m very passionate about new music. I really believe it’s the life’s blood of classical music,” Demirjian says. “And I like to advocate for my composer friends, and Michael is a good friend from college.”

“Five-Six-Seven-Eight” is named for what all dancers use to count in to a routine. “This piece is in four short movements,” Demirjian says. “Each is in a different meter and is an homage to a different type of dance. Michael will be in Boise with me to talk about the piece with the audience.”

Meet the other music director candidates here.

Get involved

▪ You can become part of the artistic director selection process through audience surveys, online forums at BoisePhil.org and more.

▪ You’ll get to hear Demirjian, Schachter and Oeyen talk about the program at “Backstage With the Artists” event at noon, Friday, Sept. 29.

Boise Philharmonic Opening Night

Guest conductor Aram Demirjian, with pianist Andrew von Oeyen. 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 30, Brandt Center, Northwest Nazarene University, 707 Fern St., Nampa. $22.50-$45; and 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. $24.50-$70.50. Tickets: BoisePhil.org.

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