My guest today is a man of very many talents. A successful businessman within the hospitality industry, a professional musician and an award winning composer.
Mihran Kalaydjian, “Mino”, is a Contemporary Solo Pianist & Composer. His original solo piano compositions are often described as “musical storytelling”, and are haunting and contagious, relaxing and beautiful, peaceful and touching.
The artistry and virtuosity of Mihran Kalaydjian bridges the genres of Jazz, Classical, Popular and World Music. He is a pianist with a brilliant technique and a composer who flavours his tunes with the spice of Caribbean rhythms and jazz harmonies.
Others were sharing his incredible music and quite rightly so.
Time to hand over to Mihran and find out a little more about the man behind the music.
Mihran, thank you for taking time out from your extremely busy life to join us today. Perhaps you could tell us something about your childhood, your family and where you grew up?
I am originally from Jerusalem, Israel. I have half Armenian & Jewish descent. My both parents reside in Jerusalem with my 3 youngest brothers and one adopted sister married in London.
I graduated from College Des Frères in Jerusalem with an excellence grade, than I joined the Hebrew University for my higher education and obtained a B.A in Political Science and Islamic History.
My parents encouraged me from a young age to study hard and earn good grades so I enrolled for a Master Degree. For myself, getting into college wasn’t the problem; it was finding a way to win a scholarship. The scholarship support I received helped me achieve my dream. I obtained my Master of Music with Honors in Composition and Performance Piano from Nottingham University in London.
I’ve never approached the Piano like a thing in itself, but as a gateway to Music”.
I was raised with pianos all around me, and with my mom singing all the time. She taught violin, piano, voice, and the works. My mom found me playing piano by ear one day, and she decided to get me started. She was one of my first teachers.
Composing is, for me, an inner necessity: music is a fruit of the spirit that can sometimes lead us to the Absolute. When you compose, it becomes possible to fulfil the desire to create a world of your own, a personal microcosm where you set the rules and also make their exceptions.
You spent your youth working in restaurants / Hotels and today you own a company MK Consulting Firm and specialize in working with clients in the hospitality industry who have been facing a very tough time in recent years because of the downturn in the economy. What do you consider to be the three key challenges for the hotel and restaurant industry in the current climate?
Despite the recent years of a contentious and challenging economic climate, we’re seeing the revival of the most powerful motivation for traveling — the emotional connection between vacations and quality of life.
As within any industry, the hospitality industry has a number of uncontrollable variables that affect those involved in management or ownership of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality establishments. Knowing what these factors are is important for those working in this capacity because it provides them with an opportunity for contingency planning.
When looking at current challenges in the hospitality industry, there are several we need to keep an eye on but three we need to focus on. Either by collaboration or by competition we must be willing to change and adapt while still maintaining a focus on excellent customer service and staff retention. This is not as easy as it sounds, as it is a delicate balance, but VITAL if you are in the hospitality industry to stay
When looking at the future and what key findings we should analyze when concerning the hospitality industry, there are three major changes we cannot ignore.
- First, the ecommerce revolution in the 90″s changed the way consumers think and act when making purchasing decisions.
- Secondly, the dramatic overtaking of Online Bookings by Online Travel Intermediaries (OTA).
- Third, Dwindling demand growth “We need more demand growth beyond what comes through the economy,” –
MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER.
“Mihran kalaydjian’s hands are huge and the fingers with their strength and precision might have been made of steel. He offered a firm, brilliant, sensitive yet emotionally austere performance – a vintage Rachmaninoff.” – The Jerusalem Post
Just a few of the awards that Mihran has received for his music.
- WINNER for “Album of the Year” in the 2013 Whisperings Solo Piano Radio awards.
- “Spiritual Awakening” nominated for Best New Age Song in the 2013 Independent Music Awards.
- Nominated for Best Solo Piano Album on One World Music.
- “Radiance” nominated for Best Instrumental Song in the 2013 Boston Music in Media (HMMA’s) Awards.
- “2013 Top Pick” from Kathy Parsons on MainlyPiano.com
- Ranked #45 on the 2013 Top 100 Albums on Zone Music Reporter.
- Olga Brose Valencia Prize for Excellence in Musical Composition (2008)
- “Time Lines” Down Beat Album of the Year 2006
- First Doris Duke Foundation Award for Jazz Composers
You began playing piano at a very young age. Was music an important part of family life? And,you mention an inspirational teacher, perhaps you could tell us more about him and his influence on your as a young musician?
I could name a hundred influential personalities that shaped my musical path, but I will limit myself to one outstanding musician of our time. Being a composer-pianist, Colin Stone has been a great inspiration for me. His music is complex, well-crafted and accessible at the same time. Classical music will never be mainstreamed, but it is very important to make it accessible to as many people as possible.
There are so many people that have been involved in my journey. First and foremost of course, my mother and father.
I started when I was 5. My mom is a singer and my father is a pianist and conductor and when I was growing up, she had a music school in Jerusalem. I was raised with pianos all around me, and with my mom singing all the time.
I think there was a time when I realized that playing piano was the best thing I could do. It is also what fulfils me to the fullest extent. And let’s be honest, with all brilliant and wonderful piano repertoires it is easy to be tempted.
I guess that another aspect is what the stage brings, though sometimes it can be terrifying, it also gives you that rare opportunity to connect with people whom you would never have the chance to interact otherwise.
This mutual appreciation makes you feel that you are a part of something great. Finally it is the music itself, as obvious as it sounds this is what attracts me the most in life.
Music requires amazing concentration and commitment. Has learning to play and compose music given you skills that have crossed over to other areas of your life?
Piano or music in general, is first and foremost a communication medium and meditative tool for me. It helps me to express and gather my own thoughts and emotions. It’s an empathic conductor.
My passion for the piano comes from intimate emotions and the desire to communicate the feelings that accompany our days. The dynamics of the instrument is immense and every day I want to discover new expressive possibilities.
A great pianist will practice smart. A great pianist never gives up. A great pianist will know when to put a piece down and come back to it maybe a year later. A great pianist will teach.
For me, having sensitivity, passion, and sincerity are some of the most important qualities I look for in a musician. I prefer to be moved, rather than to be wowed. I look up to musicians who are able to transport you through various feelings and places; able to paint pictures, and communicate human joys and sufferings. Technique certainly helps in order to communicate, but it just is the legwork of musicianship. Bare technique without soul isn’t art. Musicianship and showmanship are different qualities, and I put a stronger emphasis on the former.
You played piano for about 7 years before giving it up to focus on an athletic career. Was that a difficult decision to make at the time? Did you feel that you could not split your focus between music and running? When did you come back to music again?
I quit my classical piano training at age eleven, seeking a more glamorous life as a professional athlete. I still hear my father’s words ringing clearly in my head “someday you’ll thank me” referring to the childhood piano training I so gladly abandoned. An eighth grade basketball knee injury eventually proved detrimental to my childhood dream. Oh well!
It is easy to get discouraged at how much skill, strength and dexterity has been lost during the years of no practice. However, with patience and diligence, you can return to your previous form and beyond! That’s what happened to me!
Music is my most loyal friend, it is the only thing I am 100% sure of. It has never let me down and never left me alone.
By playing the piano I can show all my emotions. I play when I am happy and when I am sad. Playing the piano is also a kind of escape from the world around, from troubles and sometimes from people.
I grew up in a family of musicians. My mother is a doctor and piano teacher and my father is a conductor. My mother had a large influence on my musical development; she was the one who introduced me to music. Thanks to her, I was surrounded by music from the very beginning.
Since childhood, I remember listening Berlioz’s “Fantastic Symphony”, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto, Chopin Etudes and many other beautiful music compositions. It was one little song that inspired me to start playing piano. I loved the song so much that I would sing it over and over.
We have some links so that everyone can go and enjoy your music via your website and YouTube. It must be very difficult to identify a piece that you have composed that is your personal favourite but is there one that means a great deal to you and perhaps you could tell us why?
THIS BEAUTIFUL MELODY IS DEDICATED
TO MY FAMILY
My Mom has taught me to be proud
of who I am
My Dad has taught me to be confident
My Sister has taught me to be sweet
I love my family with all my heart and soul
Apart from classical music which other styles do you love to listen to and play? Please tell us which musicians from the different styles have influenced or inspired you to play and compose.
Richard Goode the American Classical Pianist. At various other times, Rachmaninoff, Ivan Moravec, Czech concert pianist and Solomon Cutner (known as Solomon)from Britain. The pianist who has influenced me the most is undoubtedly Ivo Pogorelich the Croatian pianist.
Other great pianists who have influenced and fascinated me are Italian Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and Croatian Dino Ciani.
And from more modern music I also enjoy listening and playing music from the 60s and 70s including artists such as Englebert Humperdinck with his very popular hit ‘Release Me’ and Elvis Presley and ‘Can’t help falling in love’.
Mihran Kalaydjian Playing Instrumental Can’t Help Falling In Love
Today when young people consider a career in the music industry it seems that they expect overnight success and that the one instrument that is needed is the guitar. It is a tough business. What advice would you give someone considering this as a career?
- I would say that patience and commitment to music, not to yourself, is the key to success.
- Young pianists should devote hours to details to ensure an excellent performance. Sometimes, however, it is not possible, mainly due to economic problems and certain insecurities about the future.
- Be your own person. If you don’t know who your own person is, try to find something else to do.
- Never give up. You will always have something musically worthwhile to share with others.
Are schools offering a classical training to students still or has this become a casualty of changing educational needs and cutbacks?
Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium
A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.
Public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, home schools, non-sectarian and religious private schools all have something to offer. Educational styles and methods range from the traditional to the progressive. How does your child learn? Does he enjoy art? Technology? Does he learn spatially, visually, or audibly? Finding the right fit can be a daunting task.
Rigorous academic standards, a dedication to order and discipline, and a focus on key, lost subjects is fueling the rapid growth of the nation’s classical schools.
What would you like to see developing going forward for young people and music?
In recent years, school curricula in the United States have shifted heavily toward common core subjects of reading and math, but what about the arts?
For young children in particular, music can be extremely valuable in enhancing personal, social and educational development. It’s important, therefore, for parents to encourage their children’s budding interest in music.
Music has similarly positive effects on young school children. As in preschool aged children, spatial-temporal reasoning is improved when school aged children learn to make music. And this growing interest and interaction with music can lead to strengthened maths, dance, reading, creative thinking and visual arts skills in children.
Apart from your own solo musical compositions you also have a wonderful band for ensemble pieces. Which piece would you like to share with us today.
Mihran Kalaydjian his Musical Band Playing Noritz Karoun – Spin Your Cotton.
You can enjoy many more performances on YouTube at these Performance links.
You can find out more about Mihran and listen more of his incredible music at the following links.
All original music ©MihranKalaydjian
My sincere thanks to Mihran for taking the time to share his life and work with us and I am sure you will enjoy his music.
Next week Lord David Prosser will entertain and enlighten us with his take on What Does the World Need Now?