Since winning the Cello First Prize and Gold Medal at the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011 at the age of 22, Narek Hakhnazaryan has performed with most major orchestras across the globe. The “dazzlingly brilliant” (The Strad) cellist also frequently performs in recital and chamber music settings, for which his playing has been described as “nothing short of magnificent” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Most recently seen as part of a trio in residence at the Wiener Konzerthaus and as a soloist with the Royal Philharmonic and Barcelona Symphony Orchestras, Hakhnazaryan opens his 2023-24 season playing chamber music of Beethoven, Mozart and Elgar with the Camerata Pacifica in venues throughout California. Abroad, he performs with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Gran Canaria Orchestra, and Aalborg Symphony Orchestra. Alongside pianist Zhang Zuo and violinist Esther Yoo, he tours China and Europe as the Z.E.N. Trio.
Hakhnazaryan has enjoyed a global career since his rise to fame in 2011, playing with orchestras such as the Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Berlin Konzerthaus, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Wiener Symphoniker, The Deutsche Nationaltheater und Staatskapelle Weimar, the Frankfurt, Finnish and Vienna Radio Orchestras, and NHK Symphony.
Of his debut with the LA Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Times exclaimed, “His command of the instrument is extraordinary.” The cellist has performed under conductors including Gergiev, Koopman, Alsop, Lintu, Sokhiev, Robertson, Honeck, Noseda, Netopil, Hrůša, and Juanjo Mena. He has toured Spain with the WDR Symphony and Saraste, the US with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under Neemi Järvi, and Japan with the Czech Philharmonic and Bělohlávek.
A former BBC New Generation Artist, he has performed with all of the BBC orchestras and made a sensational debut at the BBC Proms, with The Guardian lauding his “technically impeccable and distinctively personal” performance with “an outstanding display of musicianship.”
An eager chamber musician, Hakhnazaryan has performed at festivals worldwide and in halls across Europe with various chamber partners like Nikolai Lugansky, Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, Maxim Rysanov, Nikolai Lugansky, Georgy Tchaidze and Lucas Debargues. With the Z.E.N. Trio, he toured the US and China and released two albums on Deutsche Grammophon: Brahms and Dvořák in 2017 and Burning Through the Cold – works by Shostakovich, Babadjanian, Khachaturian, and Rachmaninoff in 2020.
Hakhnazaryan recently toured California playing a bird-themed program that included Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Respighi’s Fountains of Rome, and Ascending Bird by Siamak Aghaei and Colin Jacobsen. He has also toured southeast Asia, performing the complete Bach cello solo suites in Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo and Kyoto; and has played with Daniil Trifonov at the Verbier and Rheingau Festivals and throughout the US, including at Carnegie Hall.
He enjoyed a four-concert residency at London’s Wigmore Hall, and has appeared at Boston’s Jordan Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Cologne Philharmonie and Madrid Auditorio. Mentored by the late Rostropovich, Hakhnazaryan received an Artist Diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music where he studied with Lawrence Lesser. Prior to this he studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Alexey Seleznyov and at the Sayat-Nova School of Music in Yerevan with Zareh Sarkisyan.
Hakhnazaryan has received scholarships from the Rostropovich Foundation and the New Names Foundation, and his prizes include First Prize in the 2006 Aram Khachaturian International Competition in Armenia and First Place in the 2006 Johansen International Competition for Young String Players. As First Prize winner in the 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Hakhnazaryan made his debut in Washington, DC, and at Carnegie Hall. In September 2017 he was awarded the title of “Honored Artist of Armenia” by the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan.