University of Calgary

Edmond Agopian

  • Professor

Research Interests


Currently Teaching

 W2024 - MUPF 215B - University Orchestra
 W2024 - MUPF 241B - Chamber Music
 W2024 - MUPF 315B.4 - University Orchestra (University Orchestra IV)
 W2024 - MUPF 341B.4 - Chamber Music (Chamber Music IV)
 W2024 - MUPF 641B - Advanced Chamber Ensemble I
 W2024 - MUPF 643B - Advanced Chamber Ensemble II
 F2024 - MUPF 215A - University Orchestra
 F2024 - MUPF 241A - Chamber Music
 F2024 - MUPF 315A.1 - University Orchestra (University Orchestra I)
 F2024 - MUPF 341A.1 - Chamber Music (Chamber Music I)
 F2024 - MUPF 641A - Advanced Chamber Ensemble I
 F2024 - MUPF 643A - Advanced Chamber Ensemble II
 W2025 - MUPF 215B - University Orchestra
 W2025 - MUPF 241B - Chamber Music
 W2025 - MUPF 315B.1 - University Orchestra (University Orchestra I)
 W2025 - MUPF 341B.1 - Chamber Music (Chamber Music I)
 W2025 - MUPF 641B - Advanced Chamber Ensemble I
 W2025 - MUPF 643B - Advanced Chamber Ensemble II


Edmond Agopian began his violin training in Constantza, Romania where, along with classical studies at the Constantza Music Lyceum, he played and toured with a taraf- a Romanian /Gypsy ensemble. After immigrating to Canada he continued his musical studies at the University of Toronto (BMus), the Juilliard School (MMus) and the Masterplayers Music Academy, Switzerland (Honours Diploma). In 1991 Mr. Agopian relinquished his post at Acadia University to take up positions as Professor of Violin at the University of Calgary, Conductor of the U of C Orchestra and Artist-in-Residence at Mount Royal University Conservatory. In 2005 Mr. Agopian was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal “in recognition of outstanding achievements and service to the people and province of Alberta”. At the University of Calgary he was awarded the J. P. L. Roberts Distinguished Professorship in Fine Arts. He has been on the faculty of the Morningside Music Bridge summer international program at Mount Royal University Conservatory since its inception in 1997, and is the founder and artistic director of the University of Calgary summer chamber music festival, Contrasts. For thirteen years, he was the Music Director / Concertmaster of Calgary’s professional string orchestra, the Kensington Sinfonia.

Conducting work has included performances with the Shanghai Opera Orchestra, the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Canadian Chamber Orchestra (conductor and concertmaster), and yearly engagements with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2002 he was appointed Music Director of the Calgary Youth Orchestra, Mount Royal University.

As a violin soloist and chamber musician he has been featured on CBC Radio French and English, regional and national programs, Radio Europa, Portuguese National Radio, Taiwan National Radio, and soloist with orchestras including the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

As conductor and violinist, he has commissioned, premiered and recorded numerous Canadian compositions by established and up-and-coming composers.

He is the first violinist of the University of Calgary String Quartet, whose recording on the American label MSR Classics was selected for the Canadian Instrumental Group of the Year award and the Western Canadian Music Award. The quartet has performed and recorded the entire Beethoven String Quartet Cycle, a first for Calgary, and is in the process of completing the Shostakovich String Quartet Cycle.

Edmond Agopian’s orchestral folk based compositions and arrangements have been performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

His violin method The No Time to Practice Technique Companion has been on the SHAR Music Company’s Bestseller List since its publication ( and has been positively reviewed in the American String Teacher magazine.

Prof. Edmond Agopian is the recipient of the University of Calgary Graduate Supervisor Award.


Prof. Agopian’s research covers performances as violinist (soloist and chamber musician), conductor, work as composer/arranger, and violin pedagogy.

In the area of violin performances, his repertoire and performances range from concerts as soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, to new music commissions and premieres, to complete performances of the Beethoven and Shostakovich string quartet cycles, to collaborations with dancers (modern, classical, folk), to appearances at folk music festivals.

As conductor, his annual appearances with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra include repertoire that ranges from Canadian premieres of works by little known composers from the former Eastern block, such as Paul Constantinescu (Romania), Zygmunt Noskowski (Poland), and Boris Lyatoshynski (Ukraine), to works by Canadian composers such as Leon Zuckert and Ryszard Wrzaskala, to main stream orchestral repertoire.

Both as violinist and conductor, he has initiated, commissioned or premiered many out of the ordinary works such as the commission and premiere of On Line for laptop ensemble and orchestra by Laurie Radford,  and...heaven over heaven rose the night, for violin and aXiO with computer, synthesizer, organ and digital effects, by David Eagle.

Among his premieres, are performances in Calgary and in Paris, France, of works by Claude Debussy, discovered and completed by the renowned musicologist Robert Orledge.

Composition and arrangement highlights include two compositions, Ukrainian Suite No, 1 and 2 , which were premiered by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and his compositions and arrangements for string quartet based on klezmer and East European folk music.


“…He not only revealed the great charm of the work [Bruch–Violin Concerto in G minor] but his own musical integrity as well.”– Chronicle-Herald, Halifax

”His performance was a triumph both of technique and integration...” – Toronto Star

 “…dramatic heart-felt playing…His pitch and tone were immaculate…”– Calgary Herald

“…exuberant playing....” – New Zealand Herald

“ …The connection between the movements, the musical emphasis, the dynamic control of impeccable resolution, and the precise rhythmic beat, flavored with a good dramatic tempo, made this piece a pleasure…The music was played with such sincere enthusiasm that it generated a rush felt by all.” – La Opinion de Granada, Granada, Spain

 “…What left me amazed were the klezmer and folk music arrangements; such exciting music…”– Radiodifusao Portuguesa

"...performed here with affectionate understanding... This is music of deep-seated humanity, at times incredibly vivacious, almost frenzied in its headlong dash through constantly accelerating tempos, or else floridly sentimental, sorrowful, or nostalgic. I was grinning from ear to ear with sheer pleasure by the end [of the disc]."

-Fanfare Magazine, USA

“Imaginative interpretation...nicely pulled off…the orchestra plays to the fullest, with enthusiasm and energy…”– Sound Advice, CBC Radio

Spontaneous applause greets violinist’s efforts… There is a certain tingling of the spine, a tightening of the flesh and a rush of euphoria when one finds oneself present at a really splendid performance. These happenings are rare and precious, and are counted as jewels in a music lover’s experience. Edmond Agopian’s appearance as violin soloist with the P.E.I. Symphony was one such moment – a meld of virtuoso performance and a special empathy with the orchestra… Mr. Agopian’s instrument produced a beautiful sound, a mellow sweetness of tone that was a delight to listen to. …Even the highest and thinnest of notes played by Mr. Agopian were clear and firm. “ –The Guardian, Charlottetown

 “…dynamite fiddler… “– Penguin Eggs–Canada’s Folk, Roots and World Music Magazine

“The group, conducted by concertmaster Edmond Agopian played with requisite grace.” – Edmonton Journal

“One of the best recordings of the year…” –Off the Record, CBC Radio

 “… a warm inner glow passed through me at the conclusion of the performance”–Calgary Herald

 “…Kensington Sinfonia excelled, the strings sounding warm and the ensemble crisp and beautifully balanced.”–  Calgary Herald

Top chamber musicians Agopian, Stephens give brilliant recital… one of the finest duo recitals of this or any other season…fine form, mature musicality, and brilliant style…Agopian leaves nothing to chance, whether he is ripping into the violently asymmetrical rhythms and fingerboard acrobatics…or warmly overpainting the lyrical line… he planned the program with the same kind of thoughtful attention to detail… To each of these pieces Agopian brought a different style and an uncommonly clear delineation of character…The rich timbre and bullseye intonation…did not force any slackening of tempo…the playing was a powerful tour-de-force.” –The Mail-Star, Halifax

“But more than just colleagues, these four seem to be musical soul mates. They balance, blend and interweave perfectly whether playing Mozart or Shostakovich…the quartet’s performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s string quartet was the highlight of the concert. Each instrument took turns in the spotlight, with breath taking perfection. They created beauty out of its excessive violence and despair, making this truly a song of mourning for a world gone mad with war” Daily CourierThe Arts Scene, Kelowna

“…The challenging program… produced disciplined playing of a high order. More than that, the orchestra has learned how to sing. From the first note to the last they captured the symphonic sound, a sound which focuses the ear on musical line and design… One breakthrough they have made under conductor Edmond Agopian is in learning how to play softly. Their dynamic range was elastic, giving the phrases sculptural depth as well as linear tension… Agopian took over the orchestra only last fall, but has already helped them to develop confidence and character. They played last night as though they understood very note in the score… the whole music of the score is present in every bar…” The Mail Star, Halifax

“Classical series ends with great European evening…Agopian’s opening notes on the violin displayed one of his great talents: perfect control of pitch, which he kept up all evening…” The Fitzhugh, Jasper

“The University of Calgary Orchestra’s inaugural CD is a hands-down winner…The twelve programmatic orchestral pieces contained on Sundogs are as engaging to the mind’s eye as they are to the ear…the young members of the University of Calgary Orchestra, under conductor Edmond Agopian’s expert hand, project exuberance and freshness in their playing; the music springs to life in a way that fully supports the growing notion amongst concert audiences that Canadian classical music is indeed a force to be reckoned with – and enjoyed.”–Fast Forward, Calgary

”…original exercises that keep your physical and mental skills sharp…”­­–American String Teacher

“Best in Music…Edmond Agopian: Violin soloist and chamber player, conductor and teacher, has been a mainstay of the Calgary classical music scene since 1991…”–Calgary Herald

“Conductor Agopian takes Sinfonia in a new direction”–Calgary Herald

 “…romantic violin fantasy so ably spun by soloist Edmond Agopian.”–Calgary Herald

“Prominent violinist, teacher and popular Calgary Youth Orchestra conductor...” –Calgary Herald


Professor Agopian has a distinguished career as a pedagogue in violin, chamber music and orchestra.  His violin technique book, The No Time to Practice Technique Companion has received accolades from musicians, teachers and reviewers from many countries including Australia, Poland, China and the United States.

Violin students of Edmond Agopian have won national and international awards and are members of major Canadian orchestras–including the Assistant Concertmaster and three other violinists in the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra– as well as orchestras in the United States and Europe. A number of his former students are chamber musicians and teachers at institutions such as the Beijing Central Music Conservatory.

Prof. Agopian is also a strong proponent of experiential learning. As the first violinist and founding member of the UCalgary String Quartet, University of Calgary’s string quartet in residence, Prof. Agopian designated the second violin position as a student position to be awarded to an advanced U of C student.

His belief in exposing students to many cultures, art forms and musical styles are manifested by his organization and participation in international tours, interdisciplinary collaborations with dancers, actors, as well as the study of ethnic music, modern music, and so on.

Prof. Agopian’s teaching philosophy includes the following elements:


  • a flexible teaching approach based on the student’s particular strengths, weaknesses, personality traits,  technical and musical level of achievement, experience, knowledge, learning style, and learning and career goals
  • mastery of technical aspects in violin playing
  • improvement of musicianship and the ability to express and convey musical ideas
  • exposure to a wide range of repertoire and styles
  • violin pedagogy
  • creative and inquisitive thinking in terms of musical interpretation, violin technique, and pedagogy
  • informed musical interpretation based on musical and non-musical areas, such as art, dance, literature, music and general history, music theory, ethnomusicology, performance practice, and so on.
  • interdisciplinary  collaborations
  • exposure to many artists, cultures, fine arts disciplines and other humanities
  • readings and discussions of material that relates to various Performance issues
  • masterclasses , auditions, and performance opportunities
  • experiential learning  in a professional setting  or with professional musicians
  • preparation for careers in violin , violin teaching, and string program administration

Chamber Music and Orchestra:

  • improvement of ensemble and rehearsal techniques
  • exposure to a wide range of repertoire and styles
  • performance and leadership growth
  • preparation for careers in chamber music, orchestra, teaching, music administration


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