Born in Santa Monica, CA, Areni Agbabian began humming melodies at the tender age of 11 months. Growing up in a world of unique sounds, by age four, she was hitting xylophones and drums, making melodies and rhythms, and singing folk songs and rhymes with her aunt, a trained opera singer and Armenian music specialist, and her mother, a storyteller and Armenian folklorist. These two women imprinted the Armenian language, its tones and inflections, into her body, tongue, and heart. From a very young age, they set her on a musical journey she continues today.
At age seven, she began a more strict study of classical piano that lasted for 20 years. By age 15, Areni had given numerous piano recitals, playing sonatas and even a concerto. Throughout, she continued her vocal studies, and by age 22, had sung in many choirs of Armenian sacred, Bulgarian folk and American music. Soon after, she was professionally performing traditional Armenian folklore and music. By age 27, she began fully integrating these various elements into my own original music and improvisations of voice and piano.
As vocalist she has worked in new opera, dance, contemporary jazz, new music and multi-media performance. Her credits include What To Wear, the contemporary opera by Michael Gordon; directed by Richard Foreman, Attunement by David Rosenboom, Alison Rootberg’s I Love You, Goodbye: music by Steve Foreman, and Kim Vetter’s Echoes of Rom; music by Charles Gran. With performances at the Italian Contemporary Music Festival at RedCat Theater in Los Angeles, the James Tenney Festival, J. Paul Getty Museum and numerous concert halls in Europe, she has also sung for community service events for Congressman Adam Schiff and other cultural foundations.
Most recently she is the lead vocalist of the Tigran Quintet; a contemporary jazz/rock band with Ben Wendel (sax) Nate Wood (drums), Sam Minaie (bass) and Tigran Hamasyan on piano. Tigran Quintet has toured extensively in France, and also performed in California, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Armenia since 2009.
Areni has been living in NY since November 2008. She continues a personal study of voice, piano and music and enjoys performing and collaborating with many creative musicians, friends and artists such as Jesske Hume, Jonathan Goldberger, Butch Morris, Qasim Naqvi, Julia Wilkins, Tony Malaby, Aakaash Israni and many more.
"...intensely focused, moving toward some kind of hidden truth in simple lyrical images and phrases..."
Ben Ratliff - NY Times
"The singing of Areni Agbabian seamlessly spanned from sirenic beauty to angelic purity"
Alex Simu - Jazz Compass Romania
"lush, near-operatic vocals of Areni Agbabian"
Chris Barton - LA Times
John Fordham - The Guardian
"...singer/keyboardist Areni Agbabian's glowing vocals sustained the rootsy feel in a mercurial, heavily electronic mix. The agile Agbabian began to dart and scat like a Balkan Flora Purim..."
John Fordham - The Guardian