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Vardan Ovsepian: I have much appreciation for the actual architecture of music

13:26, August 18

By Lilit Petrosyan

Vardan Ovsepian is an Armenia-born pianist/composer whose studies include Yerevan State Conservatory, Estonian Music Academy, Helsinki Jazz Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music. He performs solo as well as with artists such as Mick Goodrick, Peter Erskine and Jerry Bergonzi. In addition to teaching at The Musical Suite in Newburyport, MA, performed and taught master in a number of countries. His pieces of music are bright examples of new jazz built up on classical foundation. Vardan told about his attitude towards music and his plans in an interview with STYLE.

You’ve been educated in different musical educational institutions: Yerevan State Conservatory, Estonian Music Academy, Helsinki Jazz Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music. Now you live and create in the USA. What changes have taken place in your creative life under the influence of these different schools of Music? Was it easy for you to express yourself and find your way in the motherland of jazz?

All the schools had a different impact on me. I majored in composition at Yerevan State Conservatory; that couple of semesters were terrific for getting a good introduction on 20th century composers and their techniques. It was a smooth transition from there into the Estonian Academy of music where I continued to explore the contemporary composers. Helsinki Jazz conservatory was different; my first actual studies in jazz theory and improvisation. Then finally Berklee College of Music, which was a long-awaited dream come true. The three and half years at Berklee were extremely helpful for polishing the traditional language of jazz.

Do you attach importance to the question of heredity in music? Are there any musicians in your family? Why did you choose music and jazz concretely?

It is of course very helpful when you have a musician in the family. My uncle was a musician; I studied the basics of music under his instructions from age 5 to 7. Until the age 13 music was just something I did without actually thinking too deeply about, along with playing chess and football. After that the real love of music came, then the path was clear…

Some of the art people compare their process of creation with some spontaneous natural phenomena or other art forms. What would you compare your creative process with? What is going on inside you while creating new pieces of music?

The creative process is not easy to describe, since it happens differently most times. I have much appreciation for the actual architecture of music: how it’s build, where it comes from, and the unlimited possibilities of the instrument you play… so the more secure you feel in the structures, the more territory there is for the spontaneous influences. Influences from nature, human interaction, wine and food, travel. Usually, while creating a piece of art, the author imagines it first of all and only then embodies it.

Some confess that it wasn’t what he wished to create; some say it turned to be even better than they imagined. Have you ever had experiences like that?

The final outcome of the creative work can vary I agree; at times you aim for a specific sound and it’s a great accomplishment to actually achieve it. Other times it is nice to let the spontaneity lead and take you other unplanned places. I like both processes.

 You have pieces of music named in Armenian: “Aragast”, “Akunc”. Have you any special memories connected with them? Why in Armenian?

The Armenian titles for those CDs were chosen primarily because the same meaning in English did not sound as appealing. Also, those particular words (Aragast, Akunc) sound similar to some Latin titles typical for the ECM record label, which I love.

What are your immediate creative plans connected with forthcoming concerts, CD-s or new music?

My recent works: VOCE (Vardan Ovsepian Chamber Ensemble) new CD called “Dreaming Paris and Variations”  came out a couple of months ago. And at the moment working on a new duo project with a Brazilian singer Tatiana Parra, to be recorded soon.

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