Established in 1997, the Aravod Ensemble (Aravod meaning "morning" or "dawn") is based in Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. The ensemble's mission is to spread the joy and festive atmosphere that is inherently associated with Armenian dance music. Through the medium of captivating stage performances, complemented by insightful and unique musical interpretations, Aravod stands out as one of the most exciting and dynamic ensembles performing today. In addition, the ensemble's members view their music and their work as a form of cultural preservation, and strive to perform Armenian and Middle Eastern song in the most authentic and accurate manner possible.
The group's vast and unprecedented repertoire is truly diverse. It includes songs composed, sung and performed by our ancestors of hundreds of years ago, music preserved and revered by Armenian Diaspora communities, as well as contemporary music not typically associated with traditional Armenian "Kef" ensembles.
Aram Hovagimian originally began with the ensemble on the keyboard but has recently made the switch over to Daf and Dumbeg, allowing for a more percussive, rhythmic sound. His knowledge of Continental and Estradayin music has afforded the ensemble genuine diversity. Aram, the ensemble's "techie," is currently a senior at Drexel University studying Information Science. His musical influences include Armen Aharonian, Arayik Darakjian, Avak Avakian, Levon Aprahamian, and Jacques Kodjian.
Antranig Kzirian is an accomplished performer on the Oud, Guitar, Bass, Bouzouki, and Sitar. He holds a degree in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently employed as a paralegal at Dechert, Price, & Rhoads, an international law firm headquartered in Philadelphia. Antranig's skills are reaching maturity on the violin and voice as well, and he plans to attend law school in the near future. His musical influences include Oudi Hrant, George Mgrdichian, Richard Hagopian, John Berberian, John Bilezikjian, Simon Shaheen, Roger Mgrdichian, Fred Elias, Elias Sarkar, Bill Aliferis, Chick Ganimian, and Dick Barsamian, as well as the bands Metallica, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam, Alice & Chains, Live, Soundgarden, & Primus.
James Kzirian is the group's percussionist extroardinaire and talented vocalist. He is in his third year at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Economics. James is an accomplished performer on the Drums, Dumbeg, Dhol, and will soon be performing on the Clarinet. His musical influences include Onnik Dinkjian, Khatchig Kazarian, Mal Barsamian, Joseph Tayoun, and Elias Sarkar.
Armen Sevag is the group's violinist and vocalist. Armen is a graduate of Villanova University with an Honors and Psychology double degree. In fulfillment of his Honors B.A., Armen completed a thesis on the legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz. He is now a third year medical student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, with goals in primary care. In addition to the violin, Armen's musical ambitions extend to the Oud, Kanun, Dumbeg, Bouzouki, and just about anything else he can get his hands on. Armen has researched the Ensemble's lyrics at conservatories in Yerevan, and is committed to the proper linguistic presentation of Armenian song. Armen feels that this has been a commonly overlooked area in "Kef" music. His influences are diverse as well, including Jascha Heifetz, Maxim Vengerov, Onnik Dinkjian, Khatchig Kazarian, Mal Barsamian, Simon Shaheen, Garo Hayrabedian, Levon Aprahamian, Modern Arabic music, Led Zeppelin, John Berberian, and Bill Aliferis.
The ensemble's influences are as diverse as their repertoire, spanning traditional Armenian Folk and Dance, Middle Eastern "Kef", Modern Armenian Continental/Estradayin and Rabiz, Arabic, South Asian, Latin, Rock, Blues, Jazz and Western classical music. Aravod is the only Armenian group in the country to be equally adept at performing traditional and modern Armenian dance styles. Aravod has performed from coast to coast throughout the United States and Canada, and looks forward to performing near you soon. For more information, please see the group's website, www.aravod.com.