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MA Top 30 Professional: Tigran Arakelyan
By Hannah Edgar
December 5, 2023

Conductor, Executive Director
Music Works Northwest

Tigran Arakelyan finds it hard to recount everything he’s accomplished in his 36 years without being overwhelmed with gratitude. He’s “been fortunate,” he insists. Or he’d sooner credit his many mentors—like his first music teacher in Armenia, or Ludovic Morlot, former music director of the Seattle Symphony—and his parents, who encouraged his “crazy ideas.” 

 Crazy to some, maybe. But many can’t imagine classical music in the Seattle area without Arakelyan. Recently named one of 425 Business magazine’s 40 under 40, Arakelyan has conducted numerous regional orchestras in Washington and California; he took the Federal Way Youth Symphony on three tours to South Korea in 2014, 2017, and 2019, and is known for finding unusual venues for all of his projects, from bars to cafes to homeless shelters. On his podcast, Let’s Talk Off the Podium, he has interviewed a huge variety of notables including George Walker, Vijay Iyer, Evelyn Glennie, JoAnn Falletta, Sharon Isbin, and Christopher Theofanidis.

Today, Arakelyan devotes virtually all of his energies to Music Works Northwest, a community music school in Bellevue, WA, that provides lessons, music therapy, and summer programs to individuals and schools, offering tuition assistance to the former and free instruction to the latter, as well as gratis public concerts by its professional faculty. 

This may be his most personal project yet—a way of giving back. Arakelyan moved to the U.S. when he was 11, his family becoming part of the bustling Armenian-American community in Glendale, CA. He was born with a respiratory condition; his parents, also musicians, believed playing a wind instrument would help, and suggested he pick up the flute. Money was tight, but Arakelyan was able to keep studying music thanks to a scholarship from the Lark Musical Society, a music school in Glendale not unlike Music Works Northwest. “My parents think that music technically saved my life,” he says. And Arakelyan is making his own mark on many, many lives today.


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