Aram Demirjian is a 21st century American conductor, internationally sought after for his dynamic performances, innovative programming concepts and distinctive ability to forge meaningful connections with both audiences and performers. He is the 8th Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and maintains an active guest conducting schedule, including an ongoing relationship with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
In the 2018-19 season, Demirjian will make guest conducting debuts with the Houston, Portland and Wichita symphonies, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal and the Breckenridge Music Festival, plus return engagements including three programs with The Philadelphia Orchestra at Verizon Hall and The Mann Center and Handel’s Messiah with the Kansas City Symphony. He also will spend a month-long conducting residency with Lyric Opera of Chicago through the Elizabeth Buccheri Opera Residency program of the Solti Foundation US, working with Sir Andrew Davis on Massenet’s Cendrillon. In recent seasons, Demirjian has enjoyed debuts with the Detroit, Indianapolis, Omaha, San Antonio, and St. Louis symphonies, the Minnesota and Sarasota orchestras, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Orquesta Sinfónico de Minería, the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and guest appearances at the Tanglewood Music Center and New England Conservatory. As a regular cover conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, he has assisted internationally renowned conductors including Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Stéphane Denève, Alan Gilbert and Antonio Pappano. He also has collaborated with a diverse and distinguished range of artists including Amanda Forsythe, Ryu Goto, Stefan Jackiw, Robert Levin, Yo-Yo Ma, Natasha Paremski, Philippe Quint, Davóne Tines, Bobby Watson, and Joyce Yang and has collaborated on projects with composers including John Adams, Matthew Aucoin, Michael Schachter, Adam Schoenberg and Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky.
Under Demirjian’s leadership, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra has achieved meaningful artistic growth and risen to both regional and national prominence. His charismatic rapport with audiences has opened gateways into the world of symphonic music for East Tennesseans of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances, reflected by substantial growth in box office revenue. Demirjian’s programs have earned praise for turning the KSO’s concerts into “the exhibition hall of living music” (Knox TN Today), featuring repertoire ranging from traditional symphonies to world premiere commissions, galvanizing partnerships with PROJECT Trio, American Modern Opera Company, Appalachian Ballet, Go! Contemporary Dance Works, Knoxville Poet Laureate R.B. Morris, plus annual participation in the Big Ears Music Festival. The upcoming season will feature a landmark collaboration with the University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theater to present a 17-performance run of Bernstein’s Candide as part of the Bernstein Centenary celebration.
Demirjian is nationally recognized for his commitment to advancing new concert formats. In 2017, the Knoxville Symphony was one of 21 orchestras selected by the League of American Orchestras to receive a Futures Fund Grant, which underwrites KSO UnStaged, a new series of multi-sensory, music-centric events taking place in unconventional venues (a craft brewery, an airplane hanger) co-curated with other creative institutions in the city. As Associate Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, he was instrumental in creating Classics Uncorked, a weeknight series that enhances the concert hall experience with thematic programming, narration, visual effects, musical demonstrations and audience interaction.
A devoted educator, Demirjian has created and conducted education and family concerts for orchestras across the country that touch the lives of over 50,000 young people annually. He was formerly on the faculty of New England Conservatory Preparatory School, where he conducted the String Repertory Orchestra, and he has conducted workshops and masterclasses with youth orchestras across the country, including the Massachusetts All State Orchestra at Symphony Hall Boston. In April 2016, he partnered with the Kansas-based non-profit Arts in Prison to curate a Beethoven-themed performance, featuring musicians from the Kansas City Symphony, for inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility.
Demirjian is the winner of a 2017 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award and the 2011 Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, where he was a three-time Conducting Fellow in the Aspen Conducting Academy. He has appeared in masterclasses with renowned conductors including Bernard Haitink at the Lucerne Easter Festival and Kurt Masur at Manhattan School of Music. Demirjian holds a joint Bachelor of Arts in Music and Government from Harvard University and a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from New England Conservatory.