Ara Topouzian

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Photo of Ara Topouzian and the kanun, an Armenian/Middle Eastern laptop harp with over 76-strings.

Ara Topouzian (born in 1969) is an Armenian musician who began playing Armenian and Middle Eastern music in 1991. He plays the kanun, The Turkish lap harp.[1]


In 1991, he formed American Recording Productions (ARP) with the intent to record and preserve this type of world music. This record label has produced over thirty recordings of Armenian and Middle Eastern music, including one of Topouzian's albums, Live from Detroit.[2]

In 2012, Topouzian was awarded the Kresge Artist Fellowship. He was among 24 literary and performing artists who received the 2012 Kresge Artist Fellowships, which provide support metro Detroit artists.[3][4] He was also invited to the Virginia Commonwealth University Symphony, performing a composition written for the Kanun by VCU Music Professor and Composer Doug Richards entitled "Ben Seni Variations.".[5][6]

In 2013, Topouzian received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to produce a documentary on the history of Armenian music and the musicians from Detroit, Michigan.[7][8]

On March 16, 2015, Topouzian released a film documentary on Detroit Public Television[9] entitled Guardians of Music: A History of Armenian Music in Detroit.[10][11][12]

On March 27, 2015, Iit was announced that Topouzian was the 2015 Artist in Residence in Farmington Hills, Michigan. This is an award given each year to a resident of Farmington or Farmington Hills, Michigan who displays exceptional talent and artistic accomplishments.[13][14] Topouzian performed a concert of Armenian music with proceeds benefiting the City of Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division that honored him with the Artist in Residence award on January 23, 2016.[15]

Other Performances[edit]

In 2014, Topouzian joined the Mark Gavoor Ensemble to perform a concert of Armenian folk music in Walla Walla, Washington for Whitman College.

HOUR Media featured a story about Ara Topouzian.[16]


Film documentaries[edit]

(Music from Ara Topouzian is used)

Educational films[edit]

World Music: A Cultural Legacy (2000) Published by Glencow Division, McGraw Hill/Macmillan Press An educational audio package in teaching students the different forms of world music. Music from Khnjook! The Ara Topouzian Ensemble was utilized for this project.

Our Musical World: The Middle East & North Africa (2012) Each Unit includes: broad discussions of under-emphasized topics in Western education; stories and interviews from the musicians, educators, or youth of the culture-groups discussed, and wonderfully creative musical samples. Our Musical World, (5.1 Book 5 / Video 1 ) -- looks at the culture and music of Armenia. Ara Topouzian - narrates & demonstrates the Kanun and Armenian music—which evolved over grave injustices imposed by the former Ottoman Empire.

Non-profit organizations[edit]

Topouzian also serves on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Economic Developers Association. In 2014, he began his second term and as chairman of the organization.[18][19]

In 2014, Topouzian joined the Board of Directors of Creative Many (formerly Artserve)[20][21][22]

In 2013, Topouzian left the City of Novi as their economic development director[23] and was appointed CEO of the Troy Chamber of Commerce.[24][25]

In 2017, Topouzian was appointed by State of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs. [26] [27] [28][29]


In 2013, Topouzian received the Mike Conboy Professional Development Award for outstanding contribution to Michigan Economic Developers Association.[30]

In 2015, Topouzian received the 2015 Overall Winner Diversity Business Leader Award from Corp! magazine for recognition of outstanding leadership in diversity and multiculturalism in the State of Michigan.[31]

In 2016 and 2017, Topouzian received the Best of Detroit from HOUR magazine under the category of Best Local Band (Original Music) [1] [32]

In 2015, Topouzian was awarded second place for Vote 4 The Best sponsored by WDIV Television. [2]

In 2015, Topouzian was awarded Artist in Residence by the City of Farmington Hills, Michigan [3]


  1. ^ Rupersburg, Nicole (9 January 2013). "A Double Life: Ara Topouzian". Prosper. Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.
  2. ^ Layne, Joslyn. "Live From Detroit - Ara Topouzian". AllMusic.
  3. ^ "Ara Topouzian". Kresge Arts in Detroit. Archived from the original on 2014-10-05.
  4. ^ Apigian-Kessel, Betty (9 May 2013). "The Brothers Topouzian: Keri and Ara". Armenian Weekly.
  5. ^ "Jon Metzger Completes New Recording". Elon University.
  6. ^ "Kanun Player Ara Topouzian". WDET. 17 January 2012. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012.
  7. ^ Harb, Ali (9 January 2014). "Documentary to Archive History of Armenian Music in Detroit". The Arab American News.
  8. ^ "American-Armenian Musician to Shoot Movie on Armenian Musical Heritage of Detroit". Armenpress. 11 February 2014.
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  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-13. Retrieved 2015-03-08.
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  16. ^ Premack, Rachel (21 August 2013). "Local Artist Profiles - Heart Strings". Hour Detroit.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-13. Retrieved 2015-03-08.
  18. ^ "Topouzian Re-Elected for Second Term on the MEDA". dbusiness. Hour Media. 10 January 2014.
  19. ^ "City of Novi's Economic Development Director appointed MEDA Vice President". Invest Novi. 30 January 2013.
  20. ^ "Change Ups: GRCC Salutes Four Women". Grand Rapids Business Journal. 4 April 2014.
  21. ^ "ArtServe Elects Troy Chamber's President to Board". dbusiness. Hour Media. 9 April 2014.
  22. ^ Oparka, Terry (2 April 2014). "Chamber CEO Fuses Arts with Business to Spur Growth". C&G Newspapers.
  23. ^ "Novi ED Director Ara Topouzian Resigns to Take New Job in Troy". The Novi Information Network. 15 May 2013.
  24. ^ Bull, Kristin (15 May 2013). "Troy Chamber names Ara Topouzian as new CEO". Crain's Detroit Business.
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External links[edit]