Mediterraneo's Creator - Levon Ichkhanian
Levon Ichkhanian was born in 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon of Armenian descent. He is the son of Edouard Ichkhanian, renowned Musical Director of Middle Eastern artists, nephew to Professor Joseph Ichkhanian, founder of the classical guitar program at the Beirut Conservatory of Music, and cousin of Hovannes Darbinian, the world's leading scholar and performer of the Armenian Tar and Choir master in The Etchmiadzin Cathedral (the oldest Cathedral in the world).
A third generation musician and artist of great versatility, Levon is proficient on the fretted and fretless guitars, oud, bouzouki, mandolin and banjitar. Contemporary jazz with world beat overtones aptly describes the music of the Canadian/Armenian multi-instrumentalist/composer.
Levon's musical odyssey first took shape in Lebanon. He studied classical guitar under the direction of his uncles, Jacques and Professor Joseph Ichkhanian. At the age of twelve, his family immigrated to Canada. One year later, he gravitated to the electric guitar. Levon’s first professional gig was at the age of 13 with Adiss, the pioneer modern Armenian singer. Levon's talent was recognized throughout his formative years by various awards, most notably by the Canadian All Star Jazz Award received at the age of sixteen. Private studies with different teachers followed suit, as did several scholarships, in particular one bestowed by the Ontario Arts Council, granting him the opportunity to attend workshops at the University of Toronto. Later, Levon studied with world-renowned musicians Pat Martino, Jim Hall Steve Khan and Simon Shaheen.
Over the past 30 years, Levon's scope of knowledge has spanned over all areas of music - performing, composing, recording, touring, and producing in several genres including Jazz, World and Traditional music. Over the past several years, Levon has added music contracting to his repertoire of expertise.
A recipient of the Governor General of Canada's acknowledgment for musical excellence, Levon has been recognized as a musical ambassador to Canada. He shared the stage with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Oliver Jones, Taylor Dane for a 2008 Olympic Tour of China. He has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe, performing at festivals and concert halls such as Peter Gabriel's WOMAD, MIDEM (Cannes), Chet Atkins Musician Days (Nashville), All Star Guitar Night (Los Angeles), Montreal Jazz Festival and Pizza Express Jazz Club (London, UK) and the International Guitar Festival of Great Britain to name a few. He has also toured with notables as Peter Murphy (of Bauhaus fame), Marisa Lindsay (singing sensation from Barbados) and with A.R. Rahman's (multiple award winner for Slumdog Millionaire) 3D World Tour which took Levon to India, Singapore, Dubai and the United Kingdom. At home, in Toronto, Levon is called upon to perform at events such as "Broadway and Beyond' concert featuring Marvin Hamlisch and Fashion Cares Concert featuring Elton John.
As a session musician, Levon has played on over one hundred diverse commercial recordings including The Canadian Idol's gold selling C.D., India's national treasure - singer Hariharan's Waqt Par Bolna, soprano and multiple Juno Award winner Isabel Bayrakdarian's Tango Notturno. He also performed on numerous soundtracks for films, commercials and television, including environmentalist David Suzuki's Nature of Things, the CBC documentaries Daughters of Afghanistan and Robbing the Cradle of Civilization (New York Festival's Silver World Medal winner for Television Documentary [International]), and AR Rahman's Guru, Sivaji and Rang De Basanti. He has composed for the Nashville Chamber Orchestra and the Atlantic Jazz Society, scored soundtracks for the likes of acclaimed filmmaker Atom Egoyan, as well as produced artists concerts and JUNO nominated projects.
After performing in Toronto stage production of The Lord of the Rings, Levon ventured in the musical theatre world. He founded Global Village Creative inc, offering music contracting, coordinating, performance and production services. Credits include: The Lord of the Rings, the Dora Award wining Toronto show Jersey Boys, Miss Saigon, Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, Disney's The Lion King, Wicked, My Fair Lady, Donny and Marie, Colm Wilkinson, Chantal Kreviazuk, 3 Mo’ Divas, Spamalot, Toxic Avenger, Robin Hood, Chicago and TV projects as CBC's Over the Rainbow, CTV's Rick Hansen: A Concert For Heros, CITY Tv's Canada's Got Talent, Global TV's Canada's Walk of Fame, and the Canadian Tenors Gemini Award winning special Seasons of Song, with David Foster, Sarah McLaughlin, and Paul Anka. He was the arranger and music coordinator for Andrew Moodie’s Language of the Heart, was part of the creative team for Twyla Tharp’s production Come Fly Away to the music of Frank Sinatra, and music contractor for Shirley Jones, Brian Wilson's Reimagines Tour across Canada, and the Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa dates for Barbra Streisand's Back to Brooklyn Tour.
Levon is an avid explorer of improvisation, which forms the basis for his workshops, master classes and published articles. As a recognized figure in the music community, Levon endorses Godin Guitars and D’Addario Strings. His debut CD, "after hours", blends Armenian/Middle Eastern melodies with contemporary jazz, featuring instruments from around the world, including the doudouk (Armenian wind instrument), tabla, bouzouki, and accordion. Featured musicians include Grammy award winners and world-renowned artists John Patitucci (bass) and Paquito D'Rivera (sax/clarinet). Distributed by Mediterrano Productions, "after hours" was an Armenian Music Award nominee for Best Jazz Album, and reached #1 Indie and Top 10 Jazz on HMV Charts. Levon’s follow up CD “Travels”, winner of the best in jazz/fusion category 2002 Armenian Music Awards, is a collection of Levon’s compositions encompassing styles from Middle Eastern to Brazilian grooves and melodies, and features Alain Caron on fretless bass and Ernie Tollar on Ney and Bansuri flutes. Both CDs received rave reviews in All Music Guide to Jazz, Jazztimes, The Jazz Report, Canadian Musician, Gitarist, Horizon and Nor Gyank magazines to name a few.
Levon rediscovered the method book he used as a child "Methode Moderne de Guitar" written by his Uncle Joseph (still in print today), which has inspired him to begin working on a method book of his own. He also keeps busy with World Sinfonia, aimed at establishing an ongoing presence of Toronto’s musical diversity at home, on world stages, cultural meets and international events, and leading guitar players from various cultural backgrounds in Guitars for Peace. Most recently, Levon was the Music Coorinator for the 24th Annual Men's Handball Championship in Qatar, and featured artist in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's "Ararat: Music of Armenia" performing Mychael Danna's score from Atom Egoyan's Ararat.