Raffi Wartanian

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Raffi Joe Wartanian is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter active on guitar, oud, mandolin, and voice. His musical upbringing traces the migratory path of his Armenian ancestors: from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands to the coasts of Lebanon to the ports of Baltimore. As a musician, he has performed alongside Grammy Award-winning flutist Mary Youngblood and MB Gordy, created music and lyrics for award-winning vocalist Eileen Khatchadourian, and has played internationally as an oudist and singer-songwriter. After cutting his teeth in gospel, funk, and rock bands around his hometown of Baltimore, Raffi released his debut album Pushkin Street (2013). He was soon collaborating with Khatchadourian, writing music and lyrics for her 2015 release Titernig while producing and translating Armenian School of Oud, a three-volume textbook by Komitas Conservatory professor Mihran Demirchyan. His latest album, Critical Distance (2019), presented ten instrumental compositions on guitar, oud, and mandolin. The style is something like Armenian folk meets Appalachian bluegrass in a Brooklyn tango bar. Raffi’s teachers have included Brian Kooken, Ara Dinkjian, Miroslav Tadic, Houman Pourmehdi, Paul Bollenback, and Hakop Jaghatspanyan. As a writer, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Outside Magazine, Miami Herald, The Baltimore Sun, and elsewhere.

Photo Credit:  Anastasia Italyanskaya

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