ARMENIAN STATE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The famous Armenian conductor Sergey Smbatyan founded the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra (ASSO) in 2005. He and a group of gifted young musicians who share similar love and dedication toward music and art, in general, decided to come together to make their dream of an orchestra come true. At that time the Orchestra was still known as the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia. Now, it is known as the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra (ASSO). Note that Sergey Smbatyan is not only the Founder but also the Artistic Director and the Principal Conductor of the ASSO.
The ASSO has performed in numerous venues both in Armenia and elsewhere. World-famous concert halls have hosted the ASSO including but not limited to concert halls in Germany, France, Russia, Belgium, China, The Netherlands, Italy, Lebanon, etc. The musicians have performed in Opera Garnier (Paris), Konzerthaus (Berlin), Dr. Anton Philipszaal (Hague), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), P.Tchaikovsky Philharmonic Concert Hall and Conservatory Great Concert Hall (Moscow), etc.
The Orchestra has taken part in numerous international festivals, to name a few, “Moscow Easter Festival” (Moscow/Russia), “YOUNG.EURO.CLASSIC’’ (Berlin/Germany), Ludwig an Beethoven Easter Festival, and many others.
In addition, the ASSO has been the resident orchestra at the Aram Khachaturian International Competition (since 2007) and performed as a resident orchestra at the Musica Riva International Festival (2013, Riva del Garda/Italy), the 9th Frederic Chopin International Competition for Young Pianists (2014, Foshan/China), the Al Bustan International Festival (2014, 2015, 2016, Beirut/Lebanon), Malta International Music Festival (2018), etc.
The ASSO has worked with Valery Gergiev, Krzysztof Penderecki, Vladimir Spivakov, Maxim Vengerov, Denis Matsuev, Vadim Repin, Vag Papyan, Boris Berezovsky and many others. The musicians have got a rich portfolio of interesting musical projects and charitable events both in Armenia and overseas.
Since 2010, the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra has been holding the annual Armenian Composers’ Art Festival. Since 2013, with the support of the RA Ministry of Culture, the Orchestra has been organizing the yearly Khachaturian International Festival. The ASSO continually presents new exciting projects, such as concert series entitled “Hollywood Non-Stop,” “Cartoon Non-Stop,” “Tours to...”, “SYOA Meets” and others.
Another fantastic project is the regular series “Master Creates Masters.” Within this project, the younger musicians get the chance to take master classes from world-famous masters such as Valery Gergiev, Zakhar Bron, and many others.
The extensive repertoire of the Orchestra ranges from classical to contemporary music. In 2011 the Orchestra, headed by the artistic director and principal conductor Sergey Smbatyan, released its first CD entitled "Music is the Answer." Recorded at Sony recording studio, the CD includes works by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Eduard Hayrapetyan.
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor
Sergey Smbatyan is the Founder, Artistic Director, and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra (ASSO) - previously, the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia. For his numerous achievements in culture, the conductor was awarded the title “Honored Artist of the Republic of Armenia” by the RA President Serzh Sargsyan in 2016 and was presented with a Gold Medal by Yerevan Mayor in 2017. Earlier, in 2015, Sergey Smbatyan received the “Order of Arts and Letters of France” granted by the Minister of Culture and Communication of France.
Sergey Smbatyan has got a firm belief that music unites people. With this in mind, he founded the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia (SYOA), current Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, when he was only 18 years old. Under his leadership, SYOA received invitations to internationally renowned festivals and major venues. In 2015, the orchestra performed at MIDEM in Cannes and in 2017 during the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Poland. In addition, SYOA has had the chance to tour in cities like Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Abu Dhabi and others.
Sergey Smbatyan has started his early musical career as a violinist by participating in numerous national and international competitions in Armenia as well as in Italy, Japan, and Romania. He has also performed at both the Moscow and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras as a soloist.
One of the most outstanding moments in his career as an orchestra conductor was his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra. Sergey Smbatyan conducted the joint gala concert with the renowned artist Maxim Vengerov at the Windsor Castle for HRH Prince Charles “Princes Trust” event. After the great success, the concert was repeated at Buckingham Palace in 2011 where he conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra again.
In May 2016, Sergey Smbatyan won the first prize of the new International Concert Competition "Debut Berlin." The laureate concert took place on June 1st at the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. Highlights of his career include performances with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in Moscow, the DSO Berlin, Dresden Philharmonic, the Warsaw Philharmonic at the 19th Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, Munich Symphony Orchestra and the Korean Chamber Orchestra at the Seoul Arts Center. The collaboration with the Korean Chamber Orchestra continued later in Moscow with soloist Pinchas Zukerman, in Boston, and at Carnegie Hall in New York.
The year 2016 was also prominent in that Smbatyan joined the renowned actor John Malkovich in launching a new innovative project - the fusion of music and literature.
In September 2016, he conducted the launch concert of the All Armenian Choir and Orchestra "Generation of Independence,” where 1144 Armenian musicians from different regions of Armenia and Artsakh performed together on one stage. This special project was organized and led by Sergey Smbatyan himself.
Other impressive initiatives are the foundation of 24/04 World Orchestra for Peace in 2015 and the Pan-Armenian Symphony Orchestra in 2017. The latter, under the baton of Sergey Smbatyan, had its debut at the 40th anniversary of Gramophone Awards.
Among the highlights of Sergey Smbatyan's career is his 2018 European tour with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. Sergey Smbatyan and the MPO performed in the Mediterranean Conference Hall, Valletta; Philharmonie Gasteig, Munich; Liederhalle, Beethoven Saal, Stuttgart; Kurhaus, Wiesbaden; Philharmonie, Berlin; Musikverein, Vienna.
As a conductor, Sergey Smbatyan was greatly influenced by the late Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Muti as well as Valery Gergiev. Currently, Sergey Smbatyan is the founder of Khachaturian Conducting Competition. A champion of Armenian contemporary music, he is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Armenian Composers’ Arts Festival (ACAF), Khachaturian Festival and the Artistic Director of “Armenia” International Music Festival and Competition.
Sergey Smbatyan always seeks active participation in charity projects through spreading music at nursing homes, orphanages and universities throughout Armenia. In 2009, Mr. Smbatyan founded the unique UNICEF Children Orchestra which gave numerous performances throughout Armenia and in Europe. The continuous artistic support to Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has been another large-scale humanitarian activity in his career.
Sergey Smbatyan was born in 1987 in Yerevan, Armenia in the family of musicians. He began violin lessons as a child with his grandmother first. Later, he continued them with renowned violinists Bagrat Vardanyan and Zakhar Bron. In 2005, he founded the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia. A few years later, in 2009, Sergey Smbatyan graduated from the Moscow Conservatory and the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory. That same year he also obtained a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from the Institute of Arts, a division of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. Three years later, in 2012, he graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London.