The genius violinist has travelled the world practicing his art, playing his violin and learning from the various cultures and people encountered during his journeys. The richness of sharing and learning from other cultures is something he first found in the Mediterranean as a kid. He then moved to central Europe at 15, when he was awarded a scholarship at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover.
His studies and career took him to London, Paris and many other countries to finally let him settle back in Spain. “When I arrived in Spain, I fell in love with all the cultures here. All the Mediterranean cultures were present, all sorts of different cultures. I can live anywhere; the place does not matter to me. But here, I felt at ease, I felt that I was returning to my origins”. For Malikian, former concertmaster of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, Spain, its music reflects the wealth of the Mediterranean culture. “Spanish music has compiled a little bit of all the cultures of the Mediterranean.”
The musician is inspired by music from all over the globe: The Middle East (including his native Lebanon), Europe, Argentina, Spain… But he finds in the music from his region something communal that links people together. “Mediterranean music is very inspiring whether you’re from the Mediterranean or not. I have always studied and fed on all Mediterranean cultures that are very present in my music.”
Born in Lebanon, Malikian doesn’t forget his roots. When he mentions his home-country, he doesn’t fail to remember the role music and culture played in bringing peace back. “In Lebanon, there was a civil war for 25 years, with different people and different militias and different beliefs turning against each other”. The violinist recognises the power of music and culture that brought a divided people back together after years of pain and suffering. “Culture never stops. In difficult times, people take refuge in their roots, their culture, their music and their essence to survive. The Lebanese population is very united now”.
Culture and music go hand in hand for the violinist. And both are vital for our society. “If someone has access to culture, music, art, since they are children, when they get older, it will be impossible for them to devote themselves to war, killing, violence or intolerance.” For Malikian, if we want to develop as a varied, rich community, we need to invest in the arts and culture. “Those who have access to culture will create more respectful societies who will not only accept, but also enjoy differences. It’s wonderful that we are all different and we have to know how to live with it.”
While he praises the Mediterranean region for being culturally rich and diverse, he also recognises the differences between countries and the power that acknowledging it gives to the people. “I believe that knowing and respecting the cultures of others is where we will come to understand each other.”
His newest album “Royal Garage” is an ode to all the places he has lived in and played in. The album name refers to his childhood inspiration to start playing: the concept of having a rock & roll garage band with his father and family. Malikian is currently touring Spain, and hopefully soon the world, with his Royal Garage Tour. Touring while the planet is fighting a global pandemic gives a bitter-sweet taste to concerts but the violinist looks kindly to the future: “In times of world wars, of pandemics, of earthquakes, people have clung to culture, to music, to their customs, to their essence, in order to survive. After major catastrophes, there is always a cultural explosion, which I think is what is going to happen.”