When Armenian-American oud player Ara Dinkjian comes onstage at the Oud Festival in Jerusalem Saturday night, November 4, it will be his sixth appearance at the annual event. As is his habit, Dinkjian will perform with more than one variation, just to keep things fresh.
This year, he’s playing with Turkish-American qanun player Tamer Pinarbaşi and Greek lyra player Sokratis Sinopoulos, two of his longtime musical associates, focusing on harmony and rhythm, and without any percussion, bass or keyboard, said Dinkjian.
“We’re creating something more intimate than usual,” he said.
While all three have appeared at the festival several times, this will be their first time playing as a trio.
But Dinkjian isn’t nervous about this first joint appearance.
“I have always tried to play with musicians who will challenge and potentially elevate my own performance,” he said. “Tamer and Sokratis have always done that for me. We hope we will, in turn, elevate the listeners.”
The Jerusalem audience that gathers for the Oud Festival is a “very sensitive one,” said Dinkjian.
“If we play well, they will know it, and they will show their appreciation,” he said. “As a musician, I live for these moments.”
Being in Jerusalem has become something of an annual opportunity for Dinkjian, a native New Yorker who relishes the chance to experience Armenian history and its presence in the city.
In fact, Dinkjian, who was introduced to the oud by his father, an oud player and liturgical singer, recorded his first live solo album, “An Armenian in America,” at the 2005 Oud Festival in Jerusalem.
He had initially emerged as the lead player of Night Ark, which in the 1980s and ’90s heralded the musical wave of Eastern and Western fusion.
The current compositions of his solo career are not dramatically different from those of his past, including Night Ark. What’s changed, said Dinkjian, is his attempt to get closer to the essence of the melodies, omitting all that is unnecessary.
The Ara Dinkjian Trio will perform Saturday night, November 4, 9 p.m., at the Rebecca Crown Hall in the Jerusalem Theater.