Ara Sarkissian began studying violin at the age of four and continues to teach and perform domestically and abroad as a conductor, soloist, and orchestral musician. 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.

Previously, he 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.

Ara currently teaches violin at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. Ara began teaching violin at Interlochen during the 2008 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.”

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 nearly 20 years of teaching experience, having started teaching private lessons at an early age. As a chamber music coach, he has 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 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, James Oliver Buswell IV. Other important mentors throughout Ara’s career include Mary LaMonaca, Lynn Chang, Paul Biss, Carol Ou, Phil Setzer, and Soovin Kim.

He lives in Traverse City with his wife, Amy, and their black lab, Sadie. 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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