John Hodian is a composer, conductor, and pianist whose music combines his Armenia roots with classical composition techniques and free improvisation.
THE OFFICIAL STORY:
John Hodian is a composer, conductor, and pianist who has worked in a wide variety of idioms—from classical to jazz, rock to rap, and traditional to avant-garde theater. Hodian's music conveys emotions ranging from profound melancholy to bold exuberance. His hauntingly beautiful melodies, intricate rhythms and soulful intensity reflect both his Armenian roots and his formal classical training, as well as his years spent as a cutting edge jazz improviser.
Hodian received Masters degrees in composition and conducting at The Philadelphia College for the Performing Arts. John also spent several summers at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado where he studied piano and improvisation with Art Lande, Ralph Towner as well as literature and poetry with Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs.
While teaching composition and music theory at the University of the Arts, John was conductor of the Philadelphia New Music Ensemble and associate conductor of The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. John went on to found the first fully digital music studio in Philadelphia where he began his career in film and television scoring. Over the past 15 years he has scored over 250 documentary films and won the New York Emmy Award for "Best Music for a Documentary".
John’s music has been heard in numerous feature films, dance pieces, chamber music ensembles, stage dramas, music-theater pieces and over 300 documentaries. His music-theater piece, “Sweet Theresiendstadt”, produced by En Garde Arts and Theater Archa, played for a year in Prague before touring to Warsaw and Berlin. In addition to being selected as resident composer for the Sundance Theater Institute, John has collaborated with leading theater figures such as Anne Bogart and Israel Horowitz. John was a two time winner of the New Dramatist Frederick Lowe award for music theater.
I grew up in a tight knit Armenian family and heard nothing but Armenian music on my dads stereo before I was nine. I don’t think they owned any other type of records excerpt for one poorly produced“Best of Classics” (more on that later). I don’t recall much of anything ever happening to me…ever (my analyst tells me I’ve blocked it out) until one day when I was ten and my older sister got a piano. My parents weren’t home and my sister wasn’t really interested so I sat down and just started making up tunes for a really long time!
Many years later I’m still making things up at the piano. It’s all I really can do. While it hasn’t been the easiest life, it has kept me from being a juvenile delinquent or a drug addict. I sat in on my sister's piano lessons and soon started lessons myself. I made remarkable progress in my first 6 months. I don’t know if I’ve gotten any better since then (it must have been something in the water). Luckily my part-time piano teacher had the insight to send me to a better-equipped teacher in the nearby city of Philadelphia and formal study of "classical" music began.
I went on to get a masters degree in both music composition and conducting but took many detours as a jazz musician, avant-garde improviser, and University professor. In the summers I started hanging around the Naropa Institute in Boulder Colorado soaking up experiences not only with the music faculty but also the illustrious literature department which included Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso and many others from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets.
I moved to New York, saw the cost of rent and was quickly transformed into a more “commercial” composer of film and television scores. After 15 years of writing music for other people 18 hours a day, I woke up one morning and decided I had had enough. Since then I have never written music for anybody but myself...oh, and my partner, Bet Williams.
Which brings me to Bet Williams. I had heard of Bet and had even seen her around town a couple of times but it wasn’t until we met at a performance art salon that I came to realize she was my musical doppelganger. She was equally flexible musically in genres I had no experience in, but always secretly wanted to (Songwriting, Music Theater, Opera). I guess that makes her my anti-doppelganger but you get the idea. We took everything we were fond of—world music, improvisation, performance art— and put it through my burgeoning recording studio experience. Epiphany Project was born.
Now we travel the world together performing in any one of a number of musical disguises (Bet Williams Band, Epiphany Project, Naghash Ensemble, Music by John Hodian). It seems confusing to promoters and agents and even our fans but we manage to keep it all straight by being in the moment and always carrying an umbrella. With our musical and geographical schizophrenia, it sometimes feels as if I don’t have any roots. But on my good days I feel like I do have roots, they are just all over the world!