Bio

Ara Sarkissian began studying violin at the age of four and continues enjoying teaching and performing domestically and abroad as a conductor, soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician.


Ara has nearly 20 years of teaching experience having started teaching private lessons at an early age. He has previously served in a teaching capacity at the Pre-College Division at Stony Brook University, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, the Community Music Center of Boston, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra at Harvard University. 


Ara currently teaches violin and chamber music, conducts the Contemporary Music Ensemble, String Orchestra, and has previously conducted the Interlochen Arts Academy (IAA) Orchestra at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. Ara began teaching violin at Interlochen during the 2007 summer camp and has been teaching year-round at the Academy since 2014. As a conductor, he prepared the IAA Orchestra for the internationally recognized 2016 NYPHIL BIENNIAL- a festival for modern music hosted by the New York Philharmonic. His work with the students received critical acclaim from Alex Ross of The New Yorker who wrote, “I would happily have stayed in the world of this music for twice as long, not least because of the avid commitment of the Interlochen students.” In his private studio at IAA, Ara has helped students to be accepted at premier conservatories such as San Francisco Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Eastman School of Music, Juilliard School, Colburn School of Music, and New England Conservatory, amongst others.


Prior to teaching full time at Interlochen, Ara taught violin and chamber music during a one-year sabbatical replacement at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis. While there, he performed as a member of the Ceruti String Quartet. 


Ara has performed in ensembles including the Callithumpian Consort, New England String Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), Guerrilla Opera, Spokane Symphony Orchestra, and IRIS Orchestra, among many others. As a performer and advocate of contemporary music, he has collaborated with esteemed composers including Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Helmut Lachenmann, Wolfgang Rihm, Steve Reich, Frederic Rzewski, George Benjamin, and Kaija Saariaho. A special highlight of his career to-date is performing under the direction of Pierre Boulez at the Lucerne Festival held in Switzerland.


Ara received his Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees in Violin Performance with academic honors from The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. While there, his principal teachers were Marylou Speaker Churchill and James Buswell IV. Other important mentors throughout Ara’s education include Mary LaMonaca, Lynn Chang, Paul Biss, Carol Ou, Phil Setzer, and Soovin Kim.


He currently lives in Traverse City where he enjoys fly fishing during the summertime, a passion of his that was nurtured in synchrony with music by his father.


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