Internationally acclaimed Australian guitarists Grigoryan Brothers are popular for the depth of their repertoire embracing genres such as classical, jazz and contemporary music. On their fifth visit to India, they are performing in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. By Team Viva
You have a diverse repertoire. How did it develop and change over the years?
Initially, we performed the classical repertoire although our own musical tastes have always been quite eclectic. This is thanks to our parents who exposed us to all sorts of musical styles and cultures. Over the years, these diverse influences have found their way in to our repertoire and the projects we choose to do either as a duo or in collaboration with other musicians.
When performing in different countries, the audience varies, how do you decide the set that you will play?
Sometimes the presenter or festival which has engaged us asks for a particular repertoire. If this is not the case then we generally choose an eclectic selection of pieces reflecting our influences. We have found that the audience really appreciate this diversity and it really doesn’t matter where we are performing.
Is the set pre decided or do you tap into the mood of the audience?
Generally, we decide what we are playing beforehand, although this can even happen just before we go live. Once on stage, we stick to this. However, we can easily vary the set list according to the mood.
During your growing up years, did you think that this what you would be doing professionally?
Music was such an integral part of our lives while growing up that we never really though about what we’d be doing when we ‘grew up’. It was more a case of we always played music and all of a sudden we were earning a living from doing what we loved.
Of the genres that you play, which is the one that you enjoy the most and why?
We do not have a ‘most enjoyable’ genre. We just love playing well written music regardless of its provenance.
What is the advice that you would give to artists/children who want to take up professional music?
Be prepared to commit to regular and rigorous practice and above all have fun.
You’ve done a lot of collaborations, what does it add to your music?
The collaboration we have with each other is our favourite but like many things in life, variety is essential in maintaining enthusiasm and discovering new possibilities
Bollywood is a large part of the music culture in India. Have you heard the kind of music that it does?
While we are not aficionados of Bollywood we know that some of the scores are quite brilliant. As in all genres of music, there is great music and not-so-great music.
You are brothers who perform together. What does the intertwining of the two add to your professional and personal life?
We have been performing and touring together for more than 20 years. Fortunately, we get on extremely well and have similar musical tastes. So, in many ways this is the ideal situation — working with someone you like and can relate to musically. So both professionally and personally, it is extremely satisfying.
Do discussions about music carry over to family dinners for instance or does discussion about the personal enter the studios?
Dinner discussions are wide and varied and may include music but not as a rule. We live in different cities (Lenny in Sydney and Slava in Adelaide). Both of us have partners and young children so when we do get together discussions are more likely to be normal mundane topics any family would have. When in the studio we are very focussed on achieving the best result possible and we can gladly say that in 20 years we have never had a serious argument or been in the position where middle ground could not be met regarding musical interpretation.
Any must-dos while you are touring the country?
Eat and drink local produce. Walk around as much as possible to get even a small feel for the voice of the city we are visiting.
Most people see music as leisure? What do you do for leisure?
Now that both of us have young children, personal leisure time is mainly focussed on them and also letting our wonderful partners have a break as we are on tour so much. I (Slava) love cooking. At home we have a large vegetable garden and pretty much eat fresh from there so I love nothing more than being inspired by what looks ready to go from the garden then fashioning a meal based on this. Unfortunately my touring schedule and position (as artistic director of the Adelaide Guitar Festival) does not give a great deal of opportunity to indulge in this passion. I (Leonard) used to play a lot of table tennis however these days when not spending time with my partner and 22 month old son, I do enjoy composing.