Armenian-Bulgarian Sylvie Zakarian began her foray into music on the piano, but a chance encounter with a xylophone at age 10 became a life-long passion. Today, she is the winner of international music competitions and prizes, and has given critically acclaimed performances at venues including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall Theater in New York, Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, Berklee Performance Center, Cutler Majestic Theater and Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston. Most recently, as part of the Classic FM European Summer Festival, Zakarian returned to her native country after 20 years to play in the concert hall of the State Music Academy in Sofia that launched her career.
Zakarian, performing on what is an unconventional instrument for a woman, ardently works to involve the solo marimba into the classical repertoire through the transcription of works from other instruments’ established repertoire. In addition, she has commissioned new music for marimba and is always eager to perform original compositions. Highlights include the premiere of Dzon, homage to composer and former Arlingtonian Alan Hovanness, on the occasion of the 100th year of his birth, written exclusively for Zakarian by Pasquale Tassone; Concerto for Marimba by Scott Ethier, as well as the Boston premier of Melancholy Beauty an Oratorio by Georgi Andreev.
Zakarian holds an ARCM in percussion performance from the Royal College of Music in London, as well as a Master's Degree in Marimba Performance from The Boston Conservatory – all with honors. Among her accomplishments during her years of residence in the United Kingdom include winning the ARCO scholarship for a solo performer by The Good Offices of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. Zakarian’s early performances were played in prestigious venues including The Royal Overseas League and The Chelsea Festival. She made her British radio debut on the BBC’s “Classic FM”, followed by a solo recital on BBC Radio 3’s “Young Artist’s Forum”.
As a resident of greater Boston (Arlington), and a professor of percussion, Zakarian is sought-after teacher and clinician for many young percussionists. She recently presented workshops and gave master classes at the Longy School of Music as well as the State Academy of Music in Bulgaria. In addition to her performing engagements, she is on the faculties of the Winchester Community Music School; Conservatory faculty of Longy School of Music of Bard College and is an affiliate instructor at the Office for the Arts at Harvard University.