Michael Ouzounian was born in Detroit, where he studied with Ara Zerounian and Nathan Gordon, principal violist of the Detroit Symphony. Continuing studies with Abraham Skernick, principal violist of the Cleveland Orchestra, Mr. Ouzounian performed a wide range of operatic, symphonic, and chamber music in a student orchestra founded and conducted by James Levine at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1972, at the age of 21, he joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as principal violist, retiring from that position in 2017.
As guest soloist at the Ravinia Festival for 18 summers, Mr. Ouzounian performed Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, and William Bolcom’s Fantasia Concertante with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as a large repertoire of chamber music, with colleagues such as James Levine, Lynn Harrell, Robert Mann, and Gary Hoffman. In New York, he has been heard often as a chamber musician with James Levine and colleagues from the MET Orchestra, as well as with Joseph Silverstein, Dawn Upshaw, and Marilyn Horne, and as soloist with the MET Orchestra in Strauss’s Don Quixote, and the Concertantes of Mozart and Bolcom at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Ouzounian served on the faculty of Switzerland’s Verbier Festival (2000-2006) and on the summer faculty of the Interlochen Arts Camp since 2014.