Award-winning Armenian musician performs on campus

Armenian Musician, Richard Hagopian introduces the oud in the Alice Peters Auditorium on April 27, 2017. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Diversity Week at Fresno State continued on April 28 in the Alice Peters Auditorium with performances by award-winning Armenian musician and professor Dr. Richard Hagopian.


Fellow musicians, students and community members filled the seats close to Hagopian to hear about his past as a musician as well as traditional folk songs.


Hagopian began his musical journey playing the oud at a young age with his two cousins who were two to three years older than him.


“We formed a band. We were about 11, 12 and 9.” Hagopian said. “We started getting a few jobs and we thought we were really good, but, actually, we stunk.”


After his family band disbanded, Hagopian was hired on by genocide-surviving musicians who had traveled to Fresno. Many knew local folk dancers who required ensembles.


“We started playing and, fortunately, I started learning all of the music from the areas from which the [Armenian musicians] came.” Hagopian said. “While I could read notes, those musicians couldn’t read notes. They were playing purely by ear.”


Hagopian eventually went on to study with his musical idol and became a master of the oud, received the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship Award, the nation’s highest honor given to those of the folk arts, in 1989.


Brenda Guadarrama, a freshman liberal studies major who attended the concert for her teaching class, felt the concert was a good way to expose students to other cultures.


“I don’t normally listen to this type of music, not really,” Guadarrama said. “I learned that Armenian music is different. I may go looking for it [to hear] again. The culture, it’s rich, and it’s good to learn other cultures because you gain more knowledge.”


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