We are deeply saddened to report the sudden passing of our dear friend and colleague Aram Gharabekian. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends, and know that Aram will live on in the memories of those who were touched by his artistry.
Aram Gharabekian, according to Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer, "knows how to inspire an orchestra to give him what he wants." As the Founder and Artistic Director of the Open Music Festival based in Los Angeles and Yerevan, Armenia, Mr. Gharabekian led the 2009 inaugural season of 23 concerts in Yerevan. In this position he directs multi-genre performances, the commissioning of new works, training programs for young musicians, and collaborations between artists from different cultures. From 1997 until 2010 Mr. Gharabekian served as Music Director of the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, leading this critically acclaimed ensemble on tours to Greece, the United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, Switzerland, England, Russia, Lebanon, Georgia, Germany, France, Canada and the U.S., where in 2001 they made their Lincoln Center debut as part of their second North American tour. They commissioned and premiered over 40 works, and issued two DVDs and three compact discs of Armenian works, one of which was recorded in the ambiance of the historic 4th century Geghard Monastery in Armenia. In his final seasons with NCOA they made their third tour to the International Festival of Palaces in St. Petersburg, completed a 10-city outreach tour in Armenia, premiered a new cello concerto by Vache Sharafyan, and presented a special concert to commemorate Armenia's 15th anniversary in the United Nations.
Mr. Gharabekian was formerly the Principal Guest Conductor of the Ukrainian Radio & Television Symphony Orchestra in Kiev. He led them in recording their first CD, featuring Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, released on Russian Disc's "Audiophile Series". Following a critically acclaimed guest appearance with the Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra in 1991, Mr. Gharabekian was invited by the Ukrainian Minister of Culture to assume the position of Artistic Advisor and Conductor. During his tenure with that orchestra he conducted performances in Kiev and on tour throughout Ukraine, and successfully regenerated its artistic and organizational capacity. During his eight years as Music Director of Boston's SinfoNova Orchestra, Mr. Gharabekian won national recognition for his innovative and enterprising programming, as well as his critically acclaimed performances in major American venues, including Carnegie Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Boston's Symphony Hall and Jordan Hall.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Gharabekian has been the Principal Guest Conductor of the Zagreb Philharmonic, and appeared with the Sinfonietta München in Germany and Italy. He has also led the Ukrainian National Symphony, the Ukrainian State Opera and Ballet of Kiev, the West Ukrainian Philharmonic in Lvov, the Armenian Philharmonic, and returned to America to conduct the Shreveport Symphony and the Fresno Philharmonic. On New Year's Eve in 1999 Mr. Gharabekian led an orchestra and chorus in Hangzhou, China of 300 musicians from 6 countries in a televised millennium celebration concert featuring Beethoven's 9th Symphony. In 2010 he returned to China to guest conduct the Zhejiang Symphony, and last season he made his debut leading a multi-city tour with the Israel Camerata. This season he leads the Cello Plus Festival Chamber Orchestra in two performances.
Born to Armenian parents, Aram Gharabekian moved to the U.S. at a young age and studied composition and piano. He graduated from the New England Conservatory with a Master's degree in Composition, and continued his postgraduate studies in Musical Phenomenology at Mainz University in Germany. He studied conducting with Franco Ferrara in Italy, and was one of a few pupils of the legendary conductor Sergiu Celibidache. He was also granted a fellowship to study composition and conducting under Jacob Druckman and Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood Music Center.
Mr. Gharabekian has commissioned and premiered several works by American and non-American composers. His concert recordings have been broadcast on National Public Radio, and he has made numerous recordings for Ukrainian, Croatian and Armenian Radio and Television, Boston's WBZ-Television, WBUR, WGBH and WCRB FM radio stations in Boston, WNYC FM in New York, the Voice of America in Washington, and Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich. The recipient of the 1989 Lucien Wulsin Performance Award for the best concert performance aired on America's National Public Radio, Mr. Gharabekian was also awarded the 1988 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Award for Adventuresome Programming. He was twice honored by the Harvard Musical Association's "Best Performance Award" and his performances have been singled out as "Best of 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1991" by the Boston Globe. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal for his contributions to the arts in Armenia.