Middle Eastern Music Blog, Podcasts

Nune Melik: Violin, Babajanian & Buffett

Violinist, Educator, Producer & Writer Dr. Nune Melik joins the podcast. As a soloist she has performed at Carnegie Hall and founded the Hidden Treasure International, which comprises research, performance, and lectures of rarely heard music. Recently she received her doctorate from McGill University, defending her thesis on Arno Babajanian. She also recently performed as a featured soloist with Jimmy Buffett.

Topics include:

  • Melik was born and raised in Russia (Siberia) to an Armenian family
  • Her sister Karine started with piano lessons, and Nune would tag along so she was exposed to music at an early age with her own piano instruction started at age 4 in the city of Ghazan
  • Learned to speak Tartar and learned about the Tartar culture, and started learning violin at around 6 years old, all of which influenced her upbringing
  • Her father played several instruments and played Armenian songs in the house
  • Melik moved to Canada at 19 years old to further her music and academic studies, steeped in Russian and European classical music at first, then branched out a bit more into her own culture’s music and the diverse array of cultures she had been exposed to over time
  • At first, she wasn’t interested in Armenian music or language, but then in her mid-20s her interests matured with her work performing the songs of Arno Babajanian
  • The Hidden Treasure project began in around 2010, with the organizing of Armenian themed concerts and also the music of other countries
  • Continued pursuit of her studies with a doctorate program in Canada, with research on Armenian music and specifically Arno Babajanian
  • Her dissertation explored the lack of information available about Babajanian, and this was an emotionally draining effort to work on documenting his legacy with precision and credibility
  • She worked with his son Ara Babajanian and their foundation to confirm and obtain the accuracy of various pieces of information for her research
  • Many of the biggest hits during the Soviet era consisted of works by Babajanian, who was even known by songwriters working with Elvis Presley, and how Babajanian was introduced in Quebec to the French Canadian community
  • A discussion of classical music training with some limitations in instruction since improvisation is not encouraged
  • Worked on a fusion Arab-Israeli project with a Lebanese composer
  • Her thoughts that in the classical world, her experimentation would be viewed as a negative, but she continued to push the envelope, and even spent time studying Eminem’s lyrics and in Detroit
  • Working on a new album, without any Armenian or Georgian influence, which will be international music that is yet undiscovered by most – Melik is at the cutting edge of fusion of classical and experimental styles
  • Melik feels liberated with her doctorate degree to go out and do more in music, and plans to dedicate time and effort to improvisation and even exploring jazz
  • How Melik feels that classical music can become too technical, and may lead to a lack of enjoyment by the instrumentalist
  • Melik’s work with Jimmy Buffet, and performing with him for his last song in his concert with a solo, which was an informative improvisational experience
  • Melik is currently working to help the Babajanian Foundation obtain non-profit status in North America, to encourage and honor women in music historically, and wants to publish the first biography of Arno Babajanian in English
  • Melik also continues her work with studying improvisation and maintains a busy performance schedule

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