By Sona Hamalian
YEREVAN — On the evening of Sunday, July 8, an extraordinary concert was held in the main square of Goris, Armenia, in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the birth of legendary composer, musician, and conductor Konstantin Orbelyan. Initiated by Lilit Makunts, the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Armenia, the concert was performed by the Armenian State Jazz Band under the baton of Orbelyan’s namesake nephew, Constantine Orbelian, who is a world-renowned conductor and pianist, and the General and Artistic Director of the Yerevan Opera House.
“Goris was chosen as the site of our concert for several reasons,” Orbelian said. “Apart from its distinction as one of Armenia’s most breathtakingly beautiful cities, Goris is the 2018 CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] Cultural Capital, as declared by the CIS Ministerial Council last year. Moreover, Goris has a very special personal meaning to me, as my father was born in Tatev. There’s even a street in the city, ‘Orbelyanner,’ named after my family.”
Aficionados of jazz and vintage esdratayin (Armenian pop) music from across Armenia as well as Russia and other CIS countries had traveled to Goris to attend the concert. The concert and the three-day cultural events in Goris were hosted by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and members of his government.
The concert’s program encompassed many of Konstantin Orbelyan’s famous songs, along with songs by Babajanyan, Khachatryan, and Michael Buble, and big-band favorites from Glenn Miller. The songs were performed by soloists Georgy Bunyatyan, Anahit Shahbazyan, Gevorg Margaryan, and Sona Rubenyan to the accompaniment of the Armenian State Jazz Band, with acclaimed instrumentalists including Avag Margaryan (blul and zurna). One of Armenia’s most renowned ensembles, the Armenian State Jazz Band is led by Artistic Director and saxophonist Armen Hyusnunts, who had arranged some of the songs performed at the concert.