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 the Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston. As part of the Classic FM European Summer Festival, Sylvie 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.
“[A Selection of Children’s Songs] … had a winning immediacy and eloquent simplicity that were enhanced by Ms Zakarian’s direct and subtle artistry; by her superb rhythm; and by her ability to phrase and to color.”
— New York Concert Review
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”..
In addition to her performing engagements, Sylvie is a sought-after teacher and clinician. She is a Conservatory Faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College; Chair of Woodwind, Brass, & Percussion at the Winchester Community Music School; and is an affiliate instructor at the Office for the Arts at Harvard University. In these venues she presents workshops, conducts ensembles, and teaches individual percussion. In addition Sylvie has conducted master classes in setting from the Longy School of Music, to the State Academy of Music in Bulgaria, as well as the Komitas State Conservatory in Armenia.
- Finalist at the BBC Young Musician's Forum, London, UK
- Special Award at the LASMO Staffa Music Award, Scotland
- British Reserve Prize for Solo Performance
- First Prize at the International Competition of contemporary Music
- First Prize at the International Competition "Svetoslav Obretenov"
- First Prize at the National Competition of Chamber Music, Bulgaria