Aug 112011
John Bilezikjian backstage before his Oud Concert at Wilshire Ebell Theatre, LA 1974.

John Bilezikjian backstage just before his Oud Concert at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles, in 1974. Photo by Don Hagopian.

From the day he found his grandfather’s instrument, life and playing the oud have never been the same.  John Bilezikjian has devoted his life to music. He took an ancient folk instrument, the oud, and expanded its range into areas never before explored.

In this country, most people are only aware of the oud as the strange looking instrument that often backs up a belly dancer. Bilezikjian’s talent expanded far beyond smoky cabarets onto concert stages worldwide making him the most distinguished oudist of his generation. His hard work has earned him the title of “America’s Oud Virtuoso”.

The oud is an ancient eleven-stringed, fretless Persian instrument dating back more than 2000 years. It is played with an eagle’s feather. It is the precursor of the lute, guitar and other western stringed instruments, having been brought back to Europe by returning crusaders.

Bilezikjian has given command performances for heads of state, appeared on concert tours with Leonard Cohen, performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Pacific Symphony, the Pasadena Pops Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Mandolin orchestra, among others. In June 2005, he debuted with the Boston Pops Orchestra as featured soloist, marking the first time the oud was presented in a solo capacity in a classical concert setting.

Although they weren’t aware of it, movie lovers have heard his music for many years. Bilezikjian has recorded sound tracks for more than fifty films, including “Prince of Egypt”, “Spy Game”, “Siriana”, “Must Love Dogs”, and “Beowulf”.  His music can be heard on many PBS documentaries. His first job for the film industry was for the sound track of the “Mission Impossible” series on television when was 19 years old.

Bilezikjian’s record company, Dantz Records, located in Laguna Hills, CA, has produced more than 25 recordings encompassing folk, pop and classical genres.  They are available through his website

John Bilezikjian

On August 21, 2011, John Bilezikjian will be performing in concert at the La Mirada Performing Arts Center.  In celebration of the 50 years he has dedicated to music, the concert will include friends with whom he has performed over the years, including members of his first band, the Halehs, formed when he was 10 years old.

For information on the upcoming concert, please visit or call 1-855-OUD-DIST (1-855-683-3478).

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