In Ara Dinkjian’s music, virtuosity goes along with an attitude towards life. It circles around the notions of peace, understanding, and dialogue between nations. It is the soundtrack of a contemporary world that draws from history and tradition the lessons that unite nations and celebrate their common elements, while respecting their differences. Considered to be one of the best contemporary oud soloists, both in the Oriental and the Occidental world, Ara Dinkjian guides us through a utopic land where music soothes our soul. If you ask him, he will say with absolute certainty, “Yes, music can change the world.” His Armenian heritage has given him a deep knowledge of the unfortunate life experiences one faces during war and forced migration. As a result, when Ara Dinkjian composes his music and plays for peace, it is a sincere desire, not a commercial gimic.
Ara Dinkjian was born in 1958 in the United States, where he has lived all his life and has created his musical career. When Night Ark – the band through which he expressed his multi-faceted talent, along with the Armenian percussionist virtuoso Arto Tuncboyaciyan – was created in 1985, the term world music had not even been invented yet. Night Ark was a pioneering and deeply influential force in world music, emerging from the New Age scene. They embraced original and unique sounds, blending a convincing mix of Western and Eastern music. Their five albums, “Picture” (1986), “Moments” (1987), “In Wonderland” (1998), “Petals On Your Path” (1999), and “Treasures” (2000) run, without any obstacle, through the road that unites New Age and traditional Armenian/Anatolian sounds with jazz.
Ara Dinkjian’s talent in composing and in playing the oud stood out already from the very first Night Ark recordings. His compositions have subsequently been performed in thirteen different languages, solid proof that Ara Dinkjian’s music naturally bridges the gap created between nations, cultures, and religions. It is an aesthetic passport that needs no visa. Greece’s Eleftheria Arvanitaki, with her songs “Dinata, Dinata” and “Meno Ektos,” and Turkey’s Sezen Aksu, with her songs “Vazgeçtim” and “Sarışınım” are only two of the many artists for whom he has provided major hits. His compositions have also appeared in movies and television soundtracks.
After a period of discographic absence, Ara Dinkjian returned to the recording studio and live performances, this time as a solo artist. His two latest releases were recorded live at the Jerusalem International Oud Festival and established him as one of the most important oud soloists worldwide. “An Armenian in America” (2006) was his first solo album, in which we enjoy his timeless compositions and oud virtuosity, accompanied by two renowned musicians, percussionist Zohar Fresco and pianist Adi Rennert. His second recording, “Peace On Earth” (2008) is a multicultural masterpiece: simple and melodic. The musicians participating in the project were, Sokratis Sinopoulos (lyra), Tamer Pınarbaşı (kanun), Rimon Haddad (bass) and Zohar Fresco (percussion).
Since 2009, Ara Dinkjian has returned to the audiences around the world, giving live performances in Israel, U.S.A. Turkey, Romania, Spain, Greece, Canada, and Denmark.
In November of 2010, over a decade after Night Ark had disbanded, the basic original members of the group reunited, giving a historic performance at the Jerusalem International Oud Festival. Ara Dinkjian continues to selectively choose his live performances and touring around the world.
The tradition of the Orient, the jazz approach of his arrangements, and the great aesthetic achievements of the world music scene during the past 20 years constitute Ara Dinkjian’s musical style. The oud in his skillful hands turns into a powerful instrument that can offer musical knowledge and entertain the senses. But most of all, it sends out a clear message of brotherhood and understanding – conditions needed for coexistence in the complicated multicultural world of the 21st century.