Conductor Aram Gharabekian Dies at 58

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Celebrated Armenian conductor Aram Gharabekian, 58, passed away on January 11 in Los Angeles.

Aram Gharabekian
Aram Gharabekian

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.”


  1. The loss of such a talented Maestro in the prime of his life is indeed a sad news. I only had the good fortune of meeting Aram once briefly. However, I knew his father and mother well and remember how proud they were of their son who was still studying at the time, if I an not mistaken, in Germany.
    My deepest condolences to his mother and sister who I believe reside in Yerevan and to all his loved ones.

  2. I knew Aram’s father, his aunt and uncle as a close “Gaghaparakits” friends since 1952 in Tehran.
    His father, Vache Gharabekian was one of our renown national figures, whose coffin was eventually transferred to Mother Armenia.
    Aram’s untimely departure is a very heavy loss to our nation and his family and friends.
    I did not have the opportunity to meet him at his youth age, but I was lucky enough to be present and enjoy several of his concerts.
    My deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.
    I sincerely hope that some day his body would be put to
    rest next to his father’s grave in Mother Armenia.

    Mack Vahanian,
    Sydney Australia.

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