Armenian folk music
Born in California’s Central Valley to Armenian parents, Richard Hagopian demonstrated his musical interest and immense talents early, beginning to study the violin at age nine and the clarinet a year later. At 11, he took up the oud. The oud, a plucked lute, is the principal instrument in Armenian folk and classical music. Richard has been playing the oud for more than six decades. During his formal training with Kanuni Garbis Bakirgian, Richard also became proficient in the other instruments essential in traditional Armenian ensembles, including the clarinet, the dumbeg (drum), and the kanun (zither).
Richard, a master of both the classical and folk repertoires, has conducted decades of personal research on Armenian music and dance. Through his performances in Armenian communities, he is widely acclaimed as an artist and tradition bearer. He was given the title Oudi in 1969 by the internationally famous virtuoso Oudi Hrant. This is the highest honor an oudist can receive. In 1989, he was named a NEA National Heritage Fellow, the highest honor given to folk and traditional artists in the United States.
Richard was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2011, with his grandson Andrew Hagopian. During the apprenticeship, Andrew improved his skill on the kanun, learning traditional music from Armenia’s different regions.
Richard was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2006, with his grandson and apprentice Phillip Hagopian. During the apprenticeship, Phillip worked with his grandfather to refine his fingering and picking techniques on the oud and to learn the modes and notes of Armenian music.