River Guerguerian is a multi-percussionist, composer, and educator who has been inspiring audiences with his ecstatic and versatile percussion for over 25 years. Whether playing with world-class symphonies or studio musicians, partnering with Grammy-award winning composers, or creating dynamic plays of rhythm for his own projects, River’s passion and attention to the vibrant life of the drum reverberates throughout the crowd. The New York Times wrote of River, “Guerguerian’s composition, sensationally performed, devoted itself even more religiously to the possibilities of pure sound."
Born in Canada of Armenian-Egyptian extraction, River’s successful and prolific career started at an early age. In 1989, he received his bachelor of music from the Manhattan School of Music Conservatory and graduated with the school’s award for Most Outstanding Percussionist. In 1988, he began creating works with Grammy- and Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun. Over the next several years he toured internationally with other artists, performing in concert halls in Tokyo, Moscow, Rome, Berlin, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul, and London. They performed in renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and Lincoln Center.
In 1994, River sold all his possessions, left civilization for five years, and lived in a wildlife sanctuary in the Himalayas. The raw power of nature initiated intense research and experimentation into the physiological effect of sound on brainwaves states. River continued his investigations into trance-inducing instrumentation as he traveled to different cultures and learned unique methods and techniques.
Drawing on this diverse background, River plays all genres of music, pulling original sound from frame drums, drum set, marimba, tabla, kanjira, cajon, gongs, singing bowls, loopers, and various found objects. He also plays Middle Eastern and Afro-Cuban percussion. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by chamber ensembles, universities, modern dance companies, and new music festivals.
As a studio musician, he has recorded over 120 albums and film soundtracks, including John Cage's documentary film I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It. He has also performed and/or recorded with such groups as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, New Music Consort, Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble, Paul Winter Consort, and Talujon Percussion Ensemble. He has also performed with Chuck Berry, Sophie B. Hawkins, Ziggy Marley, and The Gipsy Kings.
Currently, he travels internationally with Turkish master musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek. River's lyrical style can also be heard with his world-fusion jazz trio Free Planet Radio and his solo project The River Guerguerian Experience. A respected music educator, he conducts rhythm and sound exploration workshops, and enjoys teaching privately. Since 1999, River has been living in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and three daughters.