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Kanun player Ara Topouzian has led several recordings of traditional Armenian music for his label, American Recording Productions, which focuses on Armenian and Middle Eastern music. Born in Detroit, MI, Topouzian eventually lived in Atlantic City, where he played the cornet while in school and the def outside of school, in Armenian ensembles. During his college years, Topouzian focused increasingly on playing Middle Eastern music, learning to play the dumbeg and kanun, and studied with some excellent kanun players during the '80s. In 1992, Topouzian founded a label dedicated to preserving Armenian and Middle Eastern music called American Recording Productions. Three years later, he received a commission from the Red Cross' Armenian Relief Society for an album to benefit a prenatal clinic located amidst Armenia's earthquake devastation. The resulting album was For the Children of Armenia, which successfully raised money that was then donated to the clinic in the name of Topouzian's late mother. Over the next decade, Ara Topouzian led many more albums of traditional Armenian and Middle Eastern music, including the double-disc set Live From Detroit, which also featured the clarinet work of Leon Janikian. In addition to various clarinetists, Topouzian has frequently collaborated with oudists Dick Barsamian and Joe Zeytoonian, among others. In 2000, Topouzian's music was featured in the PBS documentary The Armenian Americans. ~ Joslyn Layne