Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra Anniversary Gala Concert

The Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra rounded off its 90th anniversary celebration with a Gala Concert on June 28, 2016, featuring world-renowned Armenian musicians under the baton of the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Maestro Eduard Topchjan. Solo performers were violinist Sergey Khachatryan, pianist Vag Papian, soprano Hasmik Papian, bass Barseg Tumanyan, and cellist Alexander Chausian.

In between numbers, photographs of past conductors and their performances were featured on an overhead screen, as well as photographs of musicians who had performed in the hall in the past. Also, President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia was sitting in a box seat!!

Orchestral pieces performed were Festive Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich, a wonderful opening to the evening, Symphony No. 2 by Aram Khachaturyan, and Saber Dance from Aram Khachaturian's ballet Gayane, which was performed as an encore and rounded off the evening with a big oompff!

Pianist Vag Papian performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, C-Dur, KV 467, Andante (2nd movement) and Allegro vivace assai (3rd movement). With his genius interpretation of Mozart's Piano Concerto he delved into the meaning of the music and let the listener hear beyond just notes and rhythms.

Soprano Hasmik Papian, my long-time favorite, idol, and hero, performed two arias, one from Giuseppe Verdi's La Forza del Destino and one from Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser, even though in the program Pace, pace mio Dio came first. I adore Hadmik Papian's timbre of voice and her virtuosic use of the crescendo-diminuendo effect. She also created powerful characters in both arias. In Pace, pace mio Dio she set up a peaceful mood even before she started singing, with her glorious stage presence. The heartfelt aria was an unforgettable performance.

Bass Barseg Tumanyan performed Les Toreadors from George Bizet's Carmen and Ella giammai m'amo from Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlos. Barseg Tumanyan's performance of The Toreador Song was both powerful and entertaining. The festive mood already created by Bizet in the music was wonderfully highlighted by Barseg Tumanyan. Just like Verdi should be performed, with strong emotional presence, Barseg Tumanyan stood onstage in the shoes of King Phillip and went through the same emotional storm as the character.

Violinist Sergey Khachatryan performed Rhapsody for the Violin and Orchestra by Eduard Baghdasaryan and Introduction and Perpetuum mobile for Violin and Orchestra by Eduard Mirzoyan. He also performed an encore piece before Saber Dance , but unfortunately I do not remember what piece it was. Both pieces on the program were performed with a shockingly high level of passion, and Sergey Khachatryan demonstrated his ability to combine virtuosic technique with strong emotional presence. His first piece was dedicated to violinist Anahit Tsitsikian, first renowned Armenian female violinist.

Cellist Alexander Chausian performed Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Alexander Chausian's performance was sensitive, displaying great technique and deep understanding of the music.

All of the pieces were conducted by Eduard Topchjan, who supported the soloists in every way possible. The balance he maintained throughout the entire performance within the orchestra itself and between the soloists and orchestra was superior.

I look forward to hearing all of these awesome musicians again!

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