River Guerguerian has been inspiring audiences with his ecstatic and versatile percussion for over 30 years. Whether collaborating with world-class artists, supporting symphonies or creating his own dynamic explorations of rhythm, River’s devotion and attention to the vibrant life of the drum reverberate through the mind and soul of the listener.
River was born in Montreal to Armenian/Middle Eastern parents and began his journey into music in 1974. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from The Manhattan School of Music Conservatory in 1989 and was granted the school’s award for Most Outstanding Percussionist.
In 1988 he began working with Grammy and Oscar-winning composer, Tan Dun. Over the next several years he continued performing with several artists, which placed him in the prestigious concert halls of most major cities of the world, including Carnegie Hall, The Sydney Opera House and Lincoln Center.
In 1994, River decided to sell all of his possessions and step off of the grid. He resided in a wildlife sanctuary in the Himalayas. The adventure lasted for five years and led to his immersion into extensive nature-inspired research and experimentation into the physiological effects of sound upon brainwave states. He continued his investigation of trance-inducing instrumentation as he further explored the East, closely observing the distinctive techniques of several cultures.
Drawing upon his richly diverse experiences, River plays across a remarkable span of musical genres and traditions, both obscure and mainstream. His patient research and unrelenting passion have allowed him to develop a personal and masterful sound from Old World frame drums, Middle Eastern, Indian, Western, African and Afro-Cuban percussion instruments and more. His compositions have been commissioned for and performed by chamber ensembles, universities, modern dance companies, and international music festivals.
As a highly regarded studio musician, River has recorded on over 250 albums and film soundtracks, including the John Cage documentary film, “I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It." Over the span of his prolific career, he has performed and/ or recorded with such groups as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, New Music Consort, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble, Paul Winter Consort, Talujon Percussion Ensemble, Lizz Wright, Chuck Berry, Sophie B. Hawkins, and Ziggy Marley and The Gipsy Kings. He often engineers his own percussion tracks for artists at his studio.
A respected music educator, River is Music Director of the Odyssey Community School. He also conducts “rhythm and sound exploration” workshops throughout the country, and enjoys teaching privately. You can hear his lyrical style with his world jazz trio Free Planet Radio, and other ensembles his curates.
Since 1999, River has lived in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC with his wife and three daughters. River is the Artistic Director of Asheville Rhythm, which produces the Asheville Percussion Festival, now in it’s eighth year; a down-home and world class experience that summons people from near and far to fellowship, study, and be renewed in their practice and lives.
Visit him at www.ShareTheDrum.com
“Guerguerian’s composition, sensationally performed, devoted itself even more religiously to the possibilities of pure sound.”
—The New York Times