Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

Armen Ksajikian

associate principal cello

Armen Ksajikian began his professional career at the age of 12 with the National Philharmonic of Abkhazia in the former Soviet Union. Since his arrival in the United States in 1976, he has established himself as a vital contributor to nearly every aspect of the musical life of Los Angeles. He is admired for his artistry and beloved for his generosity and wonderful sense of humor.

Armen has performed as principal or soloist with the Los Angeles and Opus chamber orchestras and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, among others. He has toured New York and Europe with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Japan and Brazil with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He has also played with most symphonies in the Southland and with the orchestras of many international ballet companies, as well as the LA Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin.

In demand for music and cultural festivals, Armen has appeared at the Colorado, Banff, Venice Film and Oregon Bach music festivals, among others. In 2003, he performed Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Orquestra Sinfônica do Teatro Nacional de Brasília at the Rio International Cello Encounter.

On any given night in Southern California, you can catch Armen playing Baroque, jazz or new music with numerous early and late-period ensembles or on TV in an unmistakable cameo as a character in Animaniacs. Armen has recorded hundreds of episodes of animated cartoons as a member of the Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra. As a scoring musician, he has over 900 motion picture soundtracks to his credit and has performed in the Academy® Awards orchestra since 2004. A shrewd casting director spotted Armen on the Hollywood Bowl stage and hired him as the uzi-toting limousine driver in James Cameron’s True Lies. Armen later recorded his own death scene when he was contracted for the orchestra that performed the score.

Armen is a member of the adventurous Armadillo String Quartet, which was voted Best String Quartet (2004) by LA Magazine. Some of his musical adventures with this ensemble include a 34 and a half hour marathon performance of Haydn’s complete quartets, a 16-day whitewater tour on the Colorado River, featuring concerts from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the top of Mendenhall Glacier, and the quartet’s annual Music by Peter Schickele concert. In 1999, the quartet premiered Schickele’s The Moose and later recorded it live for Telarc. He is also a member of the California String Quartet and recently recorded Gernot Wolfgang’s Common Ground with bassoonist Judith Farmer.

In addition to performing in master classes with Jascha Heifetz, Armen has worked with such notables as John Cage, John Adams, Henry Mancini, John Williams, Chick Corea, Randy Newman, The Manhattan Transfer, Counting Crows, Scorpions, Incubus and System of a Down. He also finds time to teach promising young cellists.

Armen’s interests include backgammon; hosting poker games and late-night Armenian buffets; whitewater rafting; photography; shortcut-, fire road- and wildfire-sleuthing throughout Los Angeles; and marathon matches of Rummikub.

Armen Ksajikian

photo Michael Miller

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