6.28.13 Artyom Manukyan Birthday Concert [$10]

Like most Armenian musicians, Artyom Manukyan is a full-time musician, in the true sense of the word. Music isn’t just something he does on the side, or in between part-time jobs – it’s his livelihood, his sole source of income, and his lifelong passion. “I think in musical terms,” says the young musician. “I see everything through music.” His latest project is a jazz quartet called Nooz, where he presents the cello, classically used in chamber music, as a modern instrument. I recently went to a Nooz show and was absolutely in awe of the sounds that the talented artist was able to produce from an instrument I always associated with Bach and Brahms.

From baroque to hip hop, Artyom Manukyan’s musical flair seems to have no limits. Somehow, between practices and gigs with three different bands, the multi-talented artist has found time to nurture yet another one of his musical passions, hip hop. He and a friend from Los Angeles are starting a productions company called New People in Yerevan. They have created arrangements for some of Armenia’s biggest hip hop and pop stars, like Hay Tgheq and Inga & Anush. It may seem a bit unusual for a classically trained cellist to branch into hip hop, but hip hop has been a driving force in Manukyan’s life for as far back as he can remember. Now that he is actually creating and working in the field, it’s like his childhood dreams are coming true. “Hip hop is my second life,” he says with a smile.

At 25, Manukyan still has a long career ahead of him, and considering he started playing cello almost by chance, who knows what exciting twists and turns the future will bring. Cello is one of those instruments that sort of got left behind with the classical era. With the rise of jazz and rock, it just didn’t make the cool list. There’s no shortage of drummers and guitarists out there, but when was the last time someone told you they played the cello? Manukyan, who started playing when he was nine, is something of an advocate for the versatility and modern relevance of the antiquated instrument, but his love affair with music and with the cello had a not so glamorous start.

Artyom Manukyan website

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