The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra (ASSO) will performs at the Barbican Hall in London on Tuesday, 14 January with its 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence Maxim Vengerov.
Artistic Director Sergey Smbatyan, who founded the ASSO 14 years ago, conducts the Orchestra in a programme which includes the long-awaited European premiere of Armenian composer John Ter-Tatevosian’s Symphony No. 2 The Fate of Man (1959). They will also play Composer-in-Residence Alexey Shor’s Barcarolle for Violin and Orchestra and Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Vengerov as the soloist.
This performance is a rare opportunity for UK audiences to hear one of Europe’s newest and most distinctive symphony orchestras, under the charismatic leadership of Sergey Smbatyan, who founded the ASSO at just 18-years-old.
The 32-year-old conductor has not only been recognized in Armenia, being recently awarded the title of “Honoured Artist of the Republic of Armenia” by the President of the Republic of Armenia, but has also received international recognition with the title of Chevalier of the “Order of Arts and Letters”, granted by the Minister of Culture and Communication of France, making him the youngest and only Armenian recipient of this title.
One of Smbatyan’s and the Orchestra’s key missions is to share Armenian culture and history internationally. Their decision to bring Ter-Tatevosian’s work to new audiences stems from a wish not only to introduce people to Armenian composers and their music, but to spread the message of hope that many Armenians have felt since the recent revolution.
Armenian composer and violinist John Ter-Tatevosian (1926-1988) based his second symphony on Soviet writer Mikhail Sholokhov’s text “The Fate of Man”, which tells the emotionally fluctuating tale of a soldier enduring trialling and devastating times throughout the Second World War, but who eventually finds hope in adopting a young boy, also ravaged by the horrors of war. This premiere comes at a pivotal point in Armenian history following their 2018 revolution, alongside continuing, and occasionally violent, tensions with some of their neighbouring countries.
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the ASSO, Sergey Smbatyan, said: “The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra is comprised of extraordinary musicians, not just in their virtuosity and dedication to the highest level of music making, but in their belief in music to spread messages of hope and joy, even in turbulent times. We hope our first ever Barbican performance, and indeed the rest of the European tour, brings a beacon of light from Armenia to the rest of the world.”
Having worked tirelessly with the Orchestra for 14 years, Smbatyan has been praised for his conducting of “great dignity and nobility” (Hessisch Niedersächsische Allgemeine) and continues to guide the Orchestra from strength to strength as it approaches its 15th year.
The Armenian conductor champions innovation in music. In 2015 he founded the 24/04 World Orchestra to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian genocide, comprising of 123 musicians from 43 countries. Earlier this year, Smbatyan also brought members of the ASSO together with musicians from all five continents for the World Congress of Information Technology, where they performed the first ever piece of music composed by artificial intelligence in real-time.
The ASSO’s Barbican performance is part of a European tour, which takes the Orchestra to cities across Germany, Austria, Russia, the Czech Republic and the UK. The ASSO is supported by the European Foundation for Support of Culture (EUFSC), who are organizing this European tour.