The Kennedy Center

João Kouyoumdjian


Embassy of Brazil
Praised for his elegant and expressive musicianship by Grammy Award winner Sharon Isbin, João Kouyoumdjian is a Brazilian-Armenian guitarist of distinction. In the words of guitar virtuoso Paulo Martelli, “João Kouyoumdjian is one of the most extraordinary Brazilian guitarists of his generation. His interpretations always displayed refined sensibility and profound aesthetic meaning.” A graduate of The Juilliard School and winner of the 2010 Souza Lima National Competition, João Kouyoumdjian has been intensively concertizing in the U.S., Brazil, and Central America. Sponsored by the Brazilian Consulate in New York, Mr. Kouyoumdjian recently performed and produced the concert Brazilian Guitar: Tradition and Tendencies at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, revisiting music of his home country and premiering works by prominent Brazilian composers Raimundo Penaforte and Ricardo Calderoni. In 2011, Mr. Kouyoumdjian debuted at Carnegie Hall performing a concert presented by the 28th Musical Armenia concert series. He also has performed at other emblematic New York venues such as Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Bruno Walter Auditorium. An avid chamber music performer, João Kouyoumdjian has collaborated with soprano Nadine Sierra in the Song Continues Festival at the Weill Recital Hall and partnered with the Juilliard Dance Division in the Composers-Choreographers Project at Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Mr. Kouyoumdjian is Artist in Residence of The Music Society of the Grace Church in Newark, presenting concerts and collaborations with the Grace Church professional choir. In Brazil, João Kouyoumdjian appears in traditional festivals and international concert series such as Seminário Souza Lima and Movimento Violão.

An enthusiastic teaching artist, Mr. Kouyoumdjian launched Guitar Horizons in 2009, a Juilliard funded summer project consisting of interactive performances and master classes in undeveloped areas of São Paulo. In 2010, he was teaching artist of an international partnership between The Juilliard School and the Brazilian outreach project Guri Santa Marcelina. Also active in academic circles, João Kouyoumdjian has given concerts and master classes in Brazilian State Universities and held presentations on interactive performance at The Juilliard School, Mannes College of Music, and New York City Classical Guitar Society. For his contributions to the field of music, Mr. Kouyoumdjian received the 2011 Culture Award from Academia de Ciência e Tecnologia, an organization located in his hometown of São José do Rio Preto, Brazil.

Mr. Kouyoumdjian holds a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Sharon Isbin, and a Bachelor of Music degree from University of São Paulo, where he studied with Edelton Gloeden. He was a recipient of many scholarships, including the Augustine and Irene Diamond Fellowships and a scholarship from the Brazilian research agency FAPESP, which enabled Mr. Kouyoumdjian to elaborate guitar transcriptions of J. S. Bach’s music. In 2007, he was the guitar assistant of Sharon Isbin at the Aspen Music Festival.

Future engagements include concerts at Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), University of Florida (Gainesville), Roger Smith Hotel (New York), Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (New York), and recitals in the Netherlands and South Africa.
João Kouyoumdjian initiated his musical studies in his hometown of São José do Rio Preto with guitarist and composer Preto Moreno in 1996 and is a mentee of the Brazilian guitarist Paulo Martelli.

About Movimento Violão:
Movimento Violão is considered the most important guitar concert series from Brazil. The series is in its seventh season and has featured acclaimed guitar artists from Europe, South America, and the United States. Movimento Violão takes place in the state of São Paulo and it promotes three concerts per month. These concerts have been praised for their high artistic level, and as a result, the series has gained notoriety not only in the state of São Paulo but also across Brazil. In 2010 its entire sixth season was broadcast and featured on Brazil's national television SESCTV. For more information about Movimento Violão, please visit the website:

Watch Past Performances

Video 1/30/2012: João Kouyoumdjian

The Brazilian-Armenian guitarist, Juilliard graduate, and winner of the 2010 Souza Lima National Competition is presented by the Brazilian series Movimento Violão, which highlights some of the best guitarists in Brazil. Presented in cooperation with the Embassy of Brazil.

João Kouyoumdjian