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Place of Service
Armenian Congregational Church
26210 W. 12 Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI

Time of Service
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Place of Visitation
Edward Korkoian Funeral Home
836 N. Main Street
Royal Oak, MI

Time of Visitation
Monday, November 5, 2012
7:00pm Prayer Service

Woodlawn Cemetery
Detroit, MI

Interlochen Center for the Arts. Please specify the Zerounian Scholarship Fund in the memo.

Ara Zerounian

Nov. 26, 1926 - Oct. 29, 2012

Ara Zerounian, noted violist and beloved pedagogue from Detroit, passed away peacefully at the age of 86 in his home in Ridgefield, CT.  He had recently moved from his home in Troy, MI to a new residence in Ridgefield in order to be near his family.  His wife Peruz, had passed away in 1996.

Zerounian was born in Detroit to Kegham and Anoush Zerouni and showed musical talent at an early age.  After training in Detroit, where he attended Cass Technical High School, he went to Northwestern University in Chicago for his undergraduate studies, followed by the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY for his Masters.  After serving in the US army in World War II, he returned to Detroit and immediately began a long and storied career teaching music in the public schools as well as privately, where he began the studies of some of the top string players in the world  including his stepdaughters, the violinists Ani and Ida Kavafian.  Zerounian was the first teacher of many other renowned string players including the former Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra and present Professor of Music at Indiana University, Violinist Jorja Fleezanis: Principal Violist of the Cleveland Orchestra and Professor at the Juilliard School and Cleveland Institute, Robert Vernon: Principal Violist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Michael Ouzounian: concertmaster of the Utah Symphony, Ralph Matson: Amalia Joanu of the Toronto Symphony, Carolyn Edwards of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Catherine Compton of the Detroit Symphony as well as many others.  Mr. "Z", as he was affectionately called by his students, had one secret to being a great teacher that he followed faithfully, which was to "love your students".  Zerounian also had a long affiliation with the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he taught for many summers.  He received many honors for his teaching, including the ASTA Teacher of the Year Award in 1977.  After retiring from teaching in the schools, he pursued a performing career while continuing his private teaching, serving as Principal Violist of several of Detroit's community orchestras alongside his wife, who often served as Concertmaster.

Zerounian established several philanthropic awards and scholarships, including the Zerounian Award as well as a fund for the Kavafians to pursue their musical careers after their father passed away in 1964. A few years later, he married their mother Peruz, and together they performed and taught while enthusiastically following their girls' formidable careers. They enjoyed 30 years of marriage, first living in Royal Oak and then in Troy.

In addition to his loving stepdaughters and their husbands Bernard Mindich and Steven Tenenbom and grandson Matthew Mindich, Zerounian is survived by his brother Haig Zerouni and wife, Alice of Los Angeles, his niece Jenny Pritchard and nephew Craig Zerouni, also of Los Angeles.

Visitaton Monday, November 5, 2012 from 6:30pm-8:00pm with a 7:00pm Prayer Service at the Edward Korkoian Funeral Home 836 N. Main Street, Royal Oak.

Visitation Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 10:00am at the Armenian Congregational Church 26210 W. 12 Mile Rd., Southfield.

Funeral Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 11:00am at the church.

[Print Obituary]


Condolences  [PDF]

  • Arman Dolikian
    Nov. 16, 2012

    I am also one of Mr. Z's violin students from age 11-15.  He used to come to our house on Greenlawn Ave in Detroit for private lessons.  His patience with me was exemplary, since I was not blessed with the talent and passion for music of my "cousins" Ani and Ida Kavafian.  When the time came to chose between engineering and music,  he was there to acknowledge my passion for electronics, and console my father, who would have rather I pursue a music career. 

    His passing brings to mind fond memories of my childhood,  and how much music was a part of our extended family life.  I'm sure he had a huge impact on his many successful music students, and will be missed by all that knew him.

  • James Przygocki
    Nov. 14, 2012

    Mr. Zerounian was my violin teacher through my junior high and high school years. I remember so vividly those trips to his house on Saturday mornings. He was so kind and patient with me, but so exacting. I was in high school when Ani and Ida were up and coming stars, studying in New York and frequently playing concerts in the Detroit area. It was always an event to hear one of them, and an inspiration as well. I remember the nervous thrill of coming to the house, hoping to glimpse one of these beautiful young women before or after my lesson, hoping that they were home on break! A real event for an adolescent boy!

    I am now Professor of Viola at the University of Wyoming. I think of Mr. Zerounian often as I play chamber music, or some of the orchestral solos that I had heard him play in one of his orchestras, or as I torment my students with the same Sevcik and Schradieck exercises that he insisted that I play.

    He was a great roll model for me as I grew up. His humanity, high standards and deep love of music were inseparable, and a profound example for me.

  • Edward V. Dolikian
    Nov. 8, 2012

    So sorry to hear of Mr Z's passing.  We were practically neighbors in Troy and was not aware that he had even moved.  I was unable to attend the visitation or funeral but wanted to pass on my condolences to the family.

    We literally grew up as a "family" with the Mr. Z and the Kavafian's and have many fond memories of family gatherings including impromptu recitals in our respective houses.  I think in our families, it was music, home made bread, and then god, family and country.

    He was an excellent teacher, a great role model, and a gentle giant in the music world.  He will be missed.

  • Byron Hanson
    Nov. 5, 2012

    During his 19 summers at Interlochen, Ara was a beloved teacher, a man of quiet dignity and in all ways a masterful human being. His knowledge and his humanity spread far beyond the skills he imparted in the studio, making disciples of us all.

  • Madeleine Ciokajlo Karcz
    Nov. 4, 2012

    What an incredible man and teacher he was, and what a legacy he left! As one of my first teachers, he left a strong impression of passion and compassion; one which I try to continue now as an educator in Detroit Public Schools.

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