Alumnus’ symphony played at Hollywood Bowl

UCLA Daily Bruin

July 30, 2007

Alumnus’ symphony played at Hollywood Bowl

Influenced by Armenian roots and self-taught in percussion, Barrett
Yeretsian takes center stage

By Michelle Castillo
< lle-castillo/>

Monday, July 30, 2007

If you had a B.A. in philosophy, Latin honors, an LSAT score in the 99th
percentile and full scholarships to top law schools, it seems there
would be only one career path for you.

But Barrett Yeretsian, who graduated from UCLA in 2001 with this resume,
decided to work as a musician.

"(Law school) was enticing, but that was the time when my music career
was starting to take off," Yeretsian said. "I had a song on Yahoo! Music
that was being played 4,000 times a month. When something like that
happens, you think, ‘Maybe I should reconsider this law school thing.’"

And it wasn’t a bad career move. Yeretsian’s symphony "Anahid," a
project incorporating the sounds of his Armenian cultural roots, was
performed at the Hollywood Bowl event "Spirit of Armenia!" in Los
Angeles on July 29. In addition to composing the piece, Yeretsian
accompanied the 15-part symphony on a traditional Armenian hand drum
known as the dhol.

"The organizer (for ‘Spirit of Armenia!’) and I had been talking about
doing an event together, (and) he asked me (if I had a song to
present)," said Yeretsian, "and I said ‘I actually do.’"

Yeretsian’s song was a rough recording that he wrote for his aunt who
had recently passed away. Yeretsian explained that the organizer loved
the song, and the rest fell together.

Yeretsian first was drawn to music at the age of 12 during a vacation to
Armenia. After seeing people play the dhol, he begged his mother to get
him one, who in turn promised she would buy him one if he took lessons
for three weeks. The lessons fueled a lifelong passion for making music,
with Yeretsian eventually teaching himself how to play the drum kit and
other instruments.

Yeretsian credits this percussive beginning as an important influence on
his musical perspective.

"When you come from the drummer world you see music differently. …
Instead of coming from a classical training, where a lot of producers
come from," Yeretsian said, "I come from a self-taught perspective. …
It’s all about the song. If you think of music as a song, an emotion,
then all the questions along the way answer themselves."

Yeretsian first attended UCLA in 1997. Although he was a philosophy
student, he took advantage of UCLA’s musical opportunities, from
academic classes to performance opportunities. His band Aviatic
performed as an exhibition band during Spring Sing 1998 as well as
competed during Battle of the Bands 2003.

"I think UCLA was a stepping stone in a lot of ways because that was
where I was first developing my craft, my recording skills and my
songwriting skills and making music for a lot of large crowds,"
Yeretsian said.

"There were a lot of musicians (at UCLA). … Even though I am
self-taught in what I do, UCLA was a big part of (my musical

He listens to music ranging from ethnic to heavy rock, pop, dance,
hip-hop, downtempo and classical, and this has allowed him to avoid
limitations based on genre. The mutitalented artist is also a producer,
a role that allows him to work in disparate musical styles and to gain
insight into the changing industry.

"A lot of people are confused about … the state of the music industry,
but it’s actually a really huge opportunity for people who are ready to
take the challenge," he said.

Yeretsian has produced the MTV2 contest-winning band, Art of Chaos. The
hard rock band’s song "Coward" was produced a month and a half before
the band was picked by MTV2 to open up for Linkin Park at the Los
Angeles date of the Projekt Revolution tour.

"It’s really cool to be a part of these artists’ careers and help them
take their sound to the next level," Yeretsian said. "As a producer, you
have to have talent to help their talent. If you are starting off with
bad music, you could be the best producer on earth, but it doesn’t mean
anything. When you are a producer, and you are dealing with an amazing
artist, you are sure to create something."

Though Yeretsian had the makings for a successful career in law, he has
never looked back on his decision. He has found that his scholarly
background is an asset even in a creative field.

"Essentially, law and music don’t have much in common," he said. "Law
seems to be more practical and related to the mind. But, in this day in
age, to have success in the music industry takes a lot more than just
music and talent. … You have to combine all these elements in order to
make a difference."

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS