Andrew (Antranig) David Kzirian is an American musician of Armenian ancestry known for his mastery and innovative style of oud interpretation, the Middle Eastern stringed instrument. Kzirian is known particularly for both his fusion-based oud style, and the study of the oud’s history in Armenian music and culture.
Kzirian embarked on his musical journey by beginning the study of classical guitar at the age of 9. He picked up the oud at 19. Over the course of several years, Kzirian personally studied with oud masters Ara Dinkjian and John Bilezikjian, kanun master Jack Chalikian, and maintains close relationships with the leading Armenian-American oud players of preceding generations such as John Berberian, Mal Barsamian, Mark Gavoor, Roger Mgrdichian Jr., Dick Barsamian and many others. In addition, George Mgrdichian, Richard Hagopian were also important influences on his playing.
Kzirian first recorded oud music as a member of the Philadelphia-based Aravod Ensemble, a group of musicians dedicated to playing traditional and modern Armenian folk, classical and dance music. With this as a strong base, Kzirian then expanded beyond this genre through the Los Angeles based History Series recordings with percussionist Barrett Yeretsian and pianist Greg Hosharian. These recordings featured the oud in both a classical and folk setting, and also included original compositions. These projects were done simultaneously to Kzirian’s experimentation with numerous rock projects as a guitarist and lyricist.
Kzirian has been featured in numerous concerts and recordings, and has toured the world with various acts including Grammy Award winning System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian. Kzirian’s oud is featured on Tankian’s track “Ching Chime”, released on the record “Harakiri”. Kzirian’s performances and recording credits extend to works with The Gaslamp Killer, duduk master Jivan Gasparyan, Jr., Capital Cities (co-founded by Sebu Simonian), solo artists Gor Mkhitarian, Sonya Varujan, hip-hop fusion standout Bei Ru, Vatsche Barsoumian and Artashes Kartalyan of the Lark Musical Society and several accomplished artists throughout the world. He has also showcased the oud at some of the largest festivals in the world, including Download, Sziget, Aftershock, and has performed on tour with Viza as support for gypsy punk rockers Gogol Bordello and reggae rockers Skindred. Future projects for Kzirian include collaborating with Gasparyan on a recording highlighting the oud and duduk as representing the union of two rich traditions of Armenian music, teaming with Maestro Hosharian to create oud-based music scored in an orchestral setting, a dedicated oud record showcasing the instrument and further compositions with String Harmonies.
Kzirian has forged a new direction for the oud, blazing a new path which blends traditional styles and scales with modern technology and approaches to redefine and reinvent the instrument, while still staying true to the passion, mastery and focus of the rich Armenian oud tradition.