LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Celebrated Armenian conductor Aram Gharabekian, 58, passed away on January 11 in Los Angeles.
Gharabekian was born in Iran in 1955. After graduating from the New England Conservatory with a Master’s Degree in composition, he continued his musical education at Mainz University in Germany. He studied with renowned Italian conductor Franco Ferrara, as well as Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache. At 24, he was granted a fellowship to study under American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein.
Gharabekian served as the music director of Armenia’s National Chamber of Orchestra from 1997 to 2010.
In 1983, Gharabekian founded and served as the music director of Boston’s SinfoNova Orchestra— appearing in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, and Jordan Hall—until 1991.
He had also served as the principal guest conductor of the Ukrainian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Zagreb Philharmonic, the Ukrainian National Symphony, the Ukrainian State Opera and Ballet, the Armenian Philharmonic, the Shreveport Symphony, and the Fresno Philharmonic.
In 2009, Gharabekian established an international music festival, the Open Music Fest, in Yerevan. More recently, he became the conductor and artistic director of the Open Music Society Foundation in Los Angeles and Yerevan.
Gharabekian’s concert recordings have been aired on National Public Radio, Boston’s WBZ Television, WBUR, WGBH, and WCRB in Boston, WNYC in New York, Voice of America in Washington, and Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich. He has also made recordings for Armenian, Ukrainian, and Croatian television and radio stations.
Among the honors and awards he received were the Presidential Medal from Armenia’s government, a proclamation from the United States Congress, the 1989 Lucien Wulsin Performance Award, the 1988 American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Award for Adventuresome Programming, two awards from the Harvard Musical Association for Best Performance; while the Boston Globe hailed his performances as “Best of 1985, 1989, 1990, and 1991.”
Upon learning of Gharabekian’s passing, President Serge Sarkisian stated in a letter, “I was deeply saddened to learn about the untimely passing of renowned conductor, the Republic of Armenia’s Esteemed Artist Aram Gharabekian… [He] stood out as a leading and unique conductor… I express my deepest condolences to Aram Gharabekian’s relatives, colleagues and friends.”