Narek Hakhnazaryan

Since winning the Cello First Prize and Gold Medal at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011 at the age of 22, Narek Hakhnazaryan has inspired audiences with his artistry, securing a reputation as one of the world’s foremost cellists. Hakhnazaryan has performed with orchestras across the globe, earning praise from critics as “dazzlingly brilliant” (The Strad) and “nothing short of magnificent” (San Francisco Chronicle). In 2014, Hakhnazaryan was named a BBC New Generation Artist, and, in August 2016, made his BBC Proms debut to critical acclaim.


Highlights of Hakhnazaryan’s 2021-2022 season include performances in Madrid with the Orchestra of Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano, at the Dvořák Prague Festival with Tomáš Netopil, Pisa Festival, Helsinki Philharmonic and Residentie Orchestra with Nicholas Collon at both The Hague and Concertgebouw Amsterdam. He also tours Australia and New Zealand. In 2020-2021 he made his debut with the Vienna Radio Orchestra and Marin Alsop in the opening concert of their season at the Musikverein, and with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra receiving an immediate re-invitation.  He was invited for a residency with Finnish Radio Symphony and Hannu Lintu, performing two televised concerti and a solo recital.


The cellist’s 2019-2020 season featured several notable debuts, including the Philharmonia Zurich with Gianandrea Noseda and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with Manfred Honeck. Return engagements included Beare’s Premiere Music Festival (formerly Hong Kong Chamber Music Festival), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Essen Philharmonic with Netopil.


Hakhnazaryan’s commitment to new and rarely heard repertoire is evident in his European and American programs this season. In Warsaw, at the Eufonie Festival, he performed the late Andrej Panufnik’s Cello Concerto, and in Washington, DC, Hakhnazaryan appeared with PostClassical Ensemble in fellow Armenian Vache Sharafyan’s Cello Concerto No. 2, alongside acclaimed visual artist Kevork Mourad for Armenian Odyssey, a world-premiere multimedia production in the Great Nave of the Washington National Cathedral.


As a recitalist, he performed at the University of Florida Performing Arts and at the Aspect Foundation in NYC. With the Z.E.N. Trio, joined by colleagues Zhou Zhang and Esther Yoo, Hakhnazaryan toured North America with stops at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, UC Santa Barbara’s Arts & Lectures Series, Boston’s Harvard Music Society, Miami’s Friends of Chamber Music, and Washington DC’s Phillips Collection. The Z.E.N. Trio released their debut album in 2017 on the Deutsche Grammophon label, and have also toured the UK, China, and Hong Kong.


Hakhnazaryan was previously named one of the Vienna Konzerthaus’s Great Talents, and has performed in the Austrian capital with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra led by Jakub Hrůša, as well as at the Musikverein with Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Dogadin. In the summer of 2019, Hakhnazaryan joined longtime collaborator Trifonov for Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff sonatas at the Verbier and Rheingau Festivals. In 2018-2019, Hakhnazaryan took part in a residency at Wigmore Hall, offering a series of fascinating programs of classic and lesser-known solo repertoire. A distinguished international orchestral soloist, Hakhnazaryan has appeared with the Baltimore, St. Louis, Seattle, Toronto, London, WDR, Frankfurt Radio, Sydney, New Zealand, and NHK Symphony Orchestras; the Royal Stockholm, Czech, Seoul, Netherlands, and Rotterdam Philharmonics; the Utah Symphony; Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Orchestre de Paris; and Teatro dell’Opera in Rome. He has collaborated with acclaimed conductors such as Alsop, Bělohlávek, Gergiev, Guerrero, Neeme Järvi, Koopman, Lintu, Pletnev, Robertson, Sarasate, Slatkin, and Sokhiev.


An eager chamber musician and recitalist, Hakhnazaryan has performed in New York’s Carnegie Hall, San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, Washington DC’s National Gallery of Art, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Salle Pleyel Paris, Berlin Konzerthaus, Oji Hall Tokyo, Shanghai Concert Hall, and esteemed festivals such as Ravinia, Aspen, Piatigorsky, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Kissinger Sommer, Robeco Summer, Beethovenfest Bonn, Mikkeli, Pau Casals, Lucerne, and Verbier, among many others.


Hakhnazaryan has received scholarships from the Rostropovich Foundation and the Russian Performing Arts Fund, and won awards including First Prize in the 2006 Aram Khachaturian International Competition in Armenia and First Place in the 2006 Johansen International Competition for Young String Players. As First Prize winner in the 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Hakhnazaryan debuted at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and in Washington, DC. In 2017 he was named an Honored Artist of Armenia, by then-President Serzh Sargsyan.


Narek Hakhnazaryan was born in Yerevan, Armenia, into a family of musicians: his father is a violinist and his mother a pianist. Mentored by the late Rostropovich, Hakhnazaryan received an Artist Diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2011 where he studied with Lawrence Lesser, following studies at the Moscow Conservatory with Alexey Seleznyov and at the Sayat-Nova School of Music in Yerevan with Zareh Sarkisyan. Hakhnazaryan plays the 1707 Joseph Guarneri cello and F.X. Tourte and Benoit Rolland bows.


“Mr. Hakhnazaryan’s intense focus and expressive artistry never flagged.”

—The New York Times


“Hakhnazaryan had what few other cellists can boast: the power to stand up to such a wall of dark, overpowering Estonian sound… Even his grandly shaped lyrical phrases had the quality of mowing down anything in his way. His tone is as gorgeously sure as it is huge. Hakhnazaryan is clearly on his way to a big career.”

—Los Angeles Times


“Hakhnazaryan took on Tchaikovsky’s brief, lyrical Nocturne in D minor for Cello and Orchestra and then ‘Variations on a Rococo Theme,’ in a revelatory performance that combined an exquisitely rich singing tone with lyrical grace and a spectacular technical prowess that made even the most elaborate of the variations seem effortless.”

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch


“Hakhnazaryan is the real deal.”

—Baltimore Sun


“Hakhnazaryan’s performance was nothing short of magnificent…He’s an artist to watch out for.”

—San Francisco Chronicle


“His tone was rich, his control immaculate and his performance stunning.”

—Kansas City Star


“He attacked the piece (Elgar’s cello concerto) with a beefy, full sound, and luxuriated over rubato slow passages with yearning phrasing.”

—Washington Post