Shushan Sargsyan. One of the most prominent contemporary composers
Without exaggeration, we can say that music occupies a huge place in the life of every person. And the people who give us this music deserve special attention. Today we want to present our readers with an exclusive interview with Shushan Sargsyan, one of the brightest contemporary composers and an outstanding author in the field of classical, film, and pop music.
Shushan, hi! Thank you for taking the time to meet with us today. Tell us, when did you decide to write music, and who did you plan to become initially?
For as long as I can remember, I have always played something. When I was six years old, I started going to music school. But due to the fact that my family constantly moved from country to country, from city to city, it was difficult for me to continuously make music. I imagined myself in the future as a doctor and purposefully prepared for admission. However, the love of music never left me. When I finished doing my homework, I ran to my piano without looking back. My mother noticed my passion for music and said that I should still finish music school.
However, one day an unpleasant incident happened: the solfeggio teacher asked us to write eight bars. Everyone did their job, except for me. I didn’t write anything and said that I couldn’t compose music. Without writing it, I understood that I was facing a bad mark. So I offered to play something interesting and luckily the teacher agreed. I started playing, she didn’t stop me for more than ten minutes. And after that, she asked the question “How do you know these chords? We didn’t learn them. Could you repeat what you played one more time?” I replied that I can never repeat the same thing, but I can play something similar. Then she called the director and another teacher, and after listening to my playing again, they announced the verdict: “Shushan, you can compose music.”
At first, I could hardly believe it, but I decided to study composition as an optional subject. And a year later I took part in the first competition “Gifted children. Hope of Ukraine” and entered the Top-100. After that, I participated in many competitions and festivals.
When I was a little over thirteen years old, a firm decision to pursue music professionally came to me. A few years later, I entered the Kharkiv Conservatory as a musicologist, then continued my creative path at the Yerevan Conservatory as a composer, and then entered the Academy of Sciences, having previously studied for a year in graduate school.
Let’s just say that I spared no effort or time to become a professional in my field and create music.
What, in your opinion, is the key to success as a composer?
Without diligence and dedication, of course, it is impossible to succeed in any field. Still, in this case, talent is important and you should also not forget how important the teachers you learn from are.
I studied with world composers such as Valentin Silvestrov, Tigran Mansuryan, Evgeny Stankovich, Vardan Adzhemyan, and others. Frankly, without such teachers, I would not have become the specialist that I am now, and collaborate with world artists.
Usually, composers choose one direction of music, in which they work in the future. However, you write in several directions at once, which is quite rare. In what particular directions do you write and why did you not stop at just one?
Writing in one direction is not my way. It was difficult for me to choose one of the three directions. I was tossing and turning all the time and could not understand which direction I should give preference. Then I realized that I should not choose one thing, but I can deal with three areas, just in a particular period, one will prevail.
The first direction I write in is classical innovative music. I am one of the world’s top 100 composers of innovative music, creating chamber vocal compositions that predetermine the further development of chamber vocal music in general.
My second direction is film music.
And the third is songs, ranging from pop music to more serious works. Songs written by me are performed by different artists from different countries of the world. Lately, I have started collaborating with Alessandro Safina and many other world artists. However, I can’t name them yet.
By visiting the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals this year, you charmed those present with your talent and creativity, and also received many proposals for cooperation, in particular about working on films. Please tell us about it.
I had previously thought about working on films but did not begin to implement this plan. I have several promotional charity videos for the UN on my account, working on which I realized that I am comfortable working with directors, and I understand how to bring the shots to life with the help of music.
Fortunately, it so happened that I came to the Cannes Film Festival, where I received even more serious offers. It is worth noting that before that I had already had negotiations with the directors, before Cannes.
I am very interested in the historical-romantic genre, and at this stage, I choose the project that will interest me the most and where I want to invest my energy.
The Cannes Film Festival was followed by an invitation to attend the Venice Film Festival, where I presented my music with great pleasure.
As you can see, I purposefully go to the cinema, being sure that after a while we will hear my music in films.
You’ve received film offers from top-notch directors of today with no previous film experience to your credit. How do you think you were able to attract their attention? What made you different from the rest?
I work in different directions, and it seems to me that this played a decisive role. Directors are interested in working with a composer who can create in different styles. In this case, they are required to have a completely different musical solution for completely different tasks and frames.
It is impossible not to mention your chic looks, in particular for the Venice and Cannes Film Festivals and the photo shoot for our magazine. What designers and brands have you collaborated with?
I have been admiring the creations of Naira Khachatryan, a designer of Armenian origin, for a long time, so my choice fell on the dresses created by her. Naira’s collections often reflect beauty through the prism of her ethnic roots, which blend with her innovative approach to knitwear, making Naira stand out in the contemporary fashion panorama.
My other outfits were presented by the bridal and evening fashion salon Blanc de Blancs. Salon stylists offer the most exclusive and inimitable models of outfits that will emphasize the uniqueness and originality of everyone.
Also, in creating some of the looks, we picked up extraordinary jewelry from the Alexis Accessories brand by designer Armine Gevorgyan. Creating products in the concept of Handmade Luxury, Armine invites every woman to find her own unique accessory. I wore these hand-made, luxurious accessories to both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals.
What are you currently working on?
For several years I have been working on a project — a concert tour. However, for now, unfortunately, I cannot reveal all the cards (Smiles). But I can say that we are already approaching the finish line.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by very incredible things: nature, communication with an interesting person, a fascinating book, travel, or paintings by artists. I have a work “Monet Gallery” because paintings are one of those things that can inspire me suddenly.
What can you call a distinctive feature of your work?
Perhaps the most characteristic features are figurative thinking in music and the synthesis of East and West.
What is the most important thing for you at work?
The most important thing is love for the project. The organization and punctuality of absolutely all participants in this project also play a big role.
If you were asked to advise a person unfamiliar with your work to get acquainted with only one of your projects, which one would you choose?
It is quite a difficult question. After all, it all depends on what a person needs.
If we are talking about classical compositions, I would advise you to listen to “Reflections” for piano, violin, and soprano. This composition will show the whole palette of what is in my classical music.
If we are talking about cinema, then you can listen to the compositions from the last album, for example, “Dawn of Love”.
As for the songs, it’s impossible to choose just one. After listening to one of my songs, and then the second, you will involuntarily think that these are the works of different composers. I write for different artists, so each time I have different tasks set before me.