Setrak Sarkissian is a Lebanese tabla player of Armenian descent. He has won numerous awards in the Middle East and in Europe for his contributions to both traditional and modern Arabic music. His compositions and arrangements have been featured on over 30 recordings and movie soundtracks, including five with Farid al-Atrash.
Sarkissian was born in Beirut, Lebanon. His passion for music began early; inspired by his older brother’s tabla playing at home and at family parties by 18 was learning to play himself. His family was not always supportive, since at that time music as a profession did not have a high social status’ they even broke his drum. Not to be deterred, he continued to play and enrolled at the conservatory for further training. His skill was immediately recognized, and Sarkissian excelled rapidly.
Sarkissian began touring with the dancer Nadia Gamal in 1958, performing with her until 1962, when he began playing with Samira Toufik. Sarkissian has performed with many Middle Eastern singers, including Samira Toufik, Fairuz, Mouhamed Abdel Wahab, Farid El Atrash, Sabah Fakhri, Abdel Halim Hafez, Fayza Ahmed, Warda, Sabah, and Majida Roumi. He has performed with such dancers as Nadia Gamal, Tahiya Carioka, Samia Gamal, Fifi Abdou, Nagwa Fouad, Souher Zaki, Samara, Amani, Ranine, Noura, and Shahraman. He continued to perform, record and teach. He lived in the traditionally Armenian neighborhood of Bourj Hammoud and has taught workshops around the world, along with international performances. Source: WIKI
On November 6, 2009 during a reception at the Gulbenkian Hall in the Cilicia Museum (Antelias, Lebanon), His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, awarded Setrak Sarkissian with the St. Mesrob Mashdotz medal in the presence of Lebanese and Armenian politicians, men and women of art and literature.(Azad Hye)
Sadly, today we bid Farewell to the Legend, who leaves behind three daughters and a son Elian Sarkissian, who follows in his father’s footsteps and is a famous percussionist(see above video). May he rest in peace.
Photo Credits: Azad Hye and Elian Sarkissian