After working as an assistant conductor with Kansas City Symphony for a year now, Aram Demirjian is taking on a new role: associate conductor for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons.
This past season at the Symphony has been one of the greatest musical years of his life, Demirjian said.
"When you're a young conductor, what you desire more than anything else is just time in front of an orchestra," he said. "And it was an incredible blessing and privilege to be able to do so."
Connection between arts and community
When the Symphony offered Demirjian a two-year contract extension and the promotion to associate conductor, there was no hesitation on his part to accept. He said the city itself made him eager to do so.
"The Kansas City Symphony is a special organization," said Demirjian. "And Kansas City is a special place because of how closely the community and the arts organizations are connected.
"I feel like, in a lot of cities, only a segmented part of the community participates in the arts. Here, there is no difference between the arts culture and the Kansas City community. They are one and the same."
In his role as assistant conductor, the bulk of Demirjian's focus was on the education concerts for elementary school students, the "Classics Uncorked" series, and the Family and Pops Series. It was the wide range of ages in the audience that surprised Demirjian the most. He said "seeing the physical reactions on people's faces" is one of the highlights.
A new year, a new position and new goals
As associate conductor, Demirjian will continue all his previous responsibilities, but he says they will increase and expand. He said he's particularly excited about a couple of series that will continue to grow in the coming season: "Classics Uncorked" and Screenland at the Symphony.
"Classics Uncorked" offers a more casual experience, with an earlier start time and a shorter program. A glass of wine or champagne is also included. Screenland at the Symphony pairs scenes from classic films with the orchestra. Demirjian said accessibility was an underlying goal for these series.
"There is this rumor out there that classical music is becoming irrelevant," Demirjian said. "That's just not the case. Every classical music piece deals with the same human emotions and feelings that we've always dealt with over time."
Never an off-season for Demirjian
Though there are no Symphony concerts scheduled during July and August, Demirjian says a lot of work happens during the summer months. Sending emails, programming music and, most importantly, learning the score he'll be conducting all take up a significant amount of time - but Demirjian says that's not a bad thing.
"The planning process for me is exciting because five (or) six months down the line, you can see it all coming together," he said. "You become very eager to work on the music, and you want to rehearse it right away."
This lack of leisure time came as no surprise. Already an associate conductor at the age of 27, Demirjian knows well that hard work pays off.
"This is my first job with a professional orchestra. I ... just finished grad school a couple years ago," he said. "It's an incredible learning experience on every level."