Montana Public Radio

Tanya Gabrielian Plays It Classical, But Not Safe

Aug 4, 2020

Eighteen-year-old Tanya Gabrielian's true dedication to music revealed itself one eventful day during kung fu practice. A Harvard biomedical engineering student on a gap year at London's Royal Academy of Music, she kicked, slipped, and fell forward. But instead of shielding her head with her hands, instinctively, the pianist-violist pulled her hands back, risking injury to her head in order to spare the tools of her music.

Hailed by the Times of London as a “pianist of powerful physical and imaginative muscle,” Gabrielian soared onto the international stage at age twenty with back-to-back victories in the Scottish International Piano Competition and Khachaturian International Competition. Her debut recital in the Purcell Room in London was chosen as “performance of the year” by Seen and Heard International. Gabrielian has studied with Matti Raekallio, Ursula Oppens, Robert McDonald, Hamish Milne, and Alexander Satz.

Beyond the traditional concert stage, she's passionate about inspiring new generations of musicians and music-lovers in diverse settings. Gabrielian's projects have included collaborations with the National Alliance on Mental Illness in programs featuring composers with mental illness, and an interactive performance series for patients at a psychiatric institute. She collaborated on an installation with artist Fran Bull for In Flanders Fields: A Meditation on War, and on a multidisciplinary project combining Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross with final statements from executed death-row inmates.

"...Unexpectedly entertaining. Gabrielian told jokes that were not always the kind you'd expect from a concert experience. They were periodically risqué, very light-hearted, and casual." - The New York Times

(Broadcast: Musician's Spotlight,  3/17/20 and 8/4/20. Listen on the radio Tuesdays, 7 p.m., or via podcast.)