“Discovering Armenia felt like I finally came home, at my source”, John Hodian

In this episode of Mindful Leaders, we explore the life of John Hodian, composer, conductor, pianist and founder of The Naghash Ensemble. Born and raised in Philadelphia to Armenian parents, John’s grandparents were survivors of the Armenian genocide, notably from the village of Perchendz near Kharpert. Around the age of 12, John serendipitously discovered the piano, which opened the gateways to his career in music as a composer and conductor. He has written scores for numerous feature films, dance pieces, musicals and over 300 documentaries, earning international recognition and awards, including an Emmy. Soon after his first visit to Armenia, he discovered the poetry of a 15th-century Armenian priest exiled from Dyarbekir named Der Mkrtich Naghash. This inspired John to compose a cycle of new music, and to establish the famous Naghash ensemble. In this segment, we explore John’s journey since leaving Philadelphia, his ancestral roots, the blessings that led him to discover Armenia, and the magic of the Naghash Ensemble, which continues to extend a piece of Armenia to the world.

About John Hodian

John Hodian is a composer, conductor, pianist and founder of the Naghash Ensemble. Following his studies in composition and conducting at The Philadelphia College for the Performing Arts, he embarked on a journey of teaching composition and music theory at the University of the Arts. He became the conductor of the Philadelphia New Music Ensemble and associate conductor of The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, after which he moved to New York and developed his career in film and television scoring. John’s music has been heard in Emmy award-winning soundtracks for feature films and documentaries, commissioned scores for dance companies, as well as stage dramas and musicals. He has scored over 300 documentary films and won the New York Emmy Award for “Best Music for a Documentary.” In 2010, John founded the Naghash Ensemble and composed its music based on sacred texts by the medieval Armenian poet and priest Mkrtich Naghash. The Ensemble has been touring regularly in Europe and in North America.

Program Overview

Mindful Leaders dives into the stories of people who have achieved prominence, walked incredible journeys, and have defined culture.

Lara sits down with specialists, thinkers, and change catalysts to deconstruct insights, events, and lessons that have shaped their personal and professional lives and have enabled them to create meaning and connection.


  • How has the discovery of his ancestral roots in Armenia and the experiences he has had since leaving Philadelphia influenced John’s decision to compose a cycle of new music and establish the Naghash ensemble, which has become a significant cultural ambassador for Armenia?

    Greeting : Telkom University

  • Excellent interview. He nailed it

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