Kristina Arakelyan

Kristina Arakelyan’s work as composer, pianist and educator is guided by a clear vision of music’s intrinsic power and purpose. The Armenian-British musician seeks to communicate profound feelings with compositions hallmarked by their striking beauty and compelling emotional honesty. Her music for choir, orchestra, chamber ensembles or solo instruments has been performed at some of the world’s leading venues including Carnegie Hall in New York, London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Symphony Hall Birmingham among them. She is set to reach a new audience with the autumn 2024 release of Dreamland, her solo debut album for Apple Music’s Platoon label, in which she performs a programme of her piano pieces.

Kristina’s schedule for 2024/5 comprises A Christmas Offering, a companion piece for Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols for Britten Pears Arts at Snape Maltings; a choral work for Christmas for the Huddersfield Choral Society; a new choral composition for Bold Tendencies, the pioneering London arts festival; an organ concertino for Anna Lapwood, commissioned by the Royal Albert Hall; works for the National Youth Choir and National Children’s Orchestra and a piano concerto in which she will be the soloist for the world premiere performance with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra in Yerevan. Her settings of two poems by Freeman Edwin Miller, written for Newcastle Choral Society, will receive their world premiere in 2024, while her latest commission for the BBC Singers, a setting of one of the ancient O Antiphons, will be performed for the first time in December 2024.

Born in Budapest in 1994 to a non-musical Armenian family, Kristina fell in love with the human voice when she was taken to the opera as a young child. She moved to Armenia at the age of four and, despite not having a piano at home, she wanted to learn to play the piano and began taking lessons after school. Her rapid progress on the instrument accelerated after she came to England in 2006 to take up a UK government Music and Dance Scheme scholarship to study at the Purcell School. Kristina’s all-round talents were nurtured with first-study lessons in composition and piano and by the quality of the specialist music school’s performance programme and masterclass sessions. She caught the public’s attention as the 15-year-old winner of the BBC Young Composers’ Competition when her piece for the BBC Singers was broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Her training continued with studies in composition and piano at London’s Royal Academy of Music and a postgraduate year at the University of Oxford. She recently completed her PhD in composition at King’s College Londonwhere her tutors included Silvina Milstein and Sir George Benjamin. During her twenties she cultivated her innate lyrical voice with works such as To the Stars (2015); Dreamland (2020-21); Seascapes (2021), a sequence of choral companions to the Four Sea Interludes from Britten’s Peter Grimes, written for the BBC Singers; Star Fantasy for organ (2021), written for Anna Lapwood; and the chamber opera Penelope: Seven Ways to Wait (2022).

Kristina’s commitment to music education is reflected in a growing output of pieces for young musicians or beginners and her teaching work at the Junior Royal Academy of Music and as associate lecturer at the University of Surrey. “I love connecting with musicians, at whatever level of ability and creating works that speak directly to people’s hearts,” she notes.