Ara Topouzian

Farmington Hills


Portrait of man with stringed musical instrument.

Ara Topouzian, world renown for performing Armenian folk music on the kanun, a lap harp with more than 76 strings. Photo by John Lucassian

I began to think about how often art is in my life as a working musician that also has a "day job." To that extent, it is part of my daily life and I have learned in recent months that it doesn't have to consume my mind all day, every day, for it to be important in my life. Exposure to art (personally speaking) can be listening to music in the car on the way to and from work. Many times, it is the only time I can concentrate on what I am listening to these days. I still get excited when either a friend or artist that I admire releases a new recording. Sadly, it seems this practice is less than it once was, however the music still is abundant online for me to explore.

Art, true art, entered my life many years ago, but it wasn't until I got older that I had respect for it. This is true. I think early on I viewed it as a toy to play with when I was bored. And like most toys, when we see a new toy, the old toy falls to the wayside. Art, in any form, shouldn't be treated this way and it took maturity for me to realize the importance it has in my life and how well it has treated me.

In 2012, I received the Kresge Artist Fellowship award and as I have said beforeā€”it was a game changer for me. It was not only validation that I was making a contribution by performing and preserving Armenian and Middle Eastern music, this award taught me how much further I could go with my artwork. It truly opened my eyes to other potential projects and explorations. It even allowed and inspired me to make a film documentary (Guardians of Music: A History of Armenian Music in Detroit) which aired on PBS television.

It is clear to me that art surrounds my daily life and continues to inspire me to think differently about the music I enjoy playing. It allows me the ability to think collaboratively, which I think is unique and important for artists. We should all look for ways where art can have an impact on our daily lives.