2018 is celebrated as the 80th anniversary of the establishment of jazz music in Armenia for that in 1938 State Jazz Orchestra of Armenia was founded under the direction of talented musician and composer Artemy Ayvazyan.
The Armenian Orchestra, founded in the late 30s, enjoyed the admiration and love of the broad spectrum of spectators from the very first years of its existence. In a very short time, the jazz orchestra replenished with talented Armenian musicians has gained wide recognition throughout the former USSR, performing with numerous concerts and tours. Skillfully formed playlist, the brilliant songs of Ayvazyan and other Armenian authors, warmed up the hearts of thousands of listeners. During the Second World War, the orchestra performed a lot at full length of the front. The Orchestra led by Ayvazyan included such talented and bright names as Tsolak Vardazaryan (trumpet), Michael Khachatryan (trumpet) and, of course, Robert Yolchyan, the founder of instrumental- jazz -school in Armenia.
Since 1956, the brilliant pianist, talented composer Konstantin Orbelyan took the responsibility for the conduction of the orchestra upon himself and led the orchestra for 36 years unceasingly. The orchestra led by Orbelyan has already gained international recognition.
The high performing mastery of the musicians of the orchestra, the brilliant personality of soloists, and, of course, Orbelyan’s skillful leadership has enhanced the reputation and the worldwide recognition of the Armenian Orchestra. The orchestra has repeatedly performed in many cities of the USSR and abroad, including Tunisia, Poland, Germany, France, Lebanon, Syria and so on. And in 1975 exceptional, fascinating tours took place in the United States, the jazz homeland. Larissa Dolina, Irina Ottieva, Alla Pugacheva, Jacques Duvalian, Simon Tery an, Erna Yuzbashyan, Zara Tonikyan, Tatevik Hovhannisyan, Elvina Makaryan, and others have performed and gained recognition in the orchestra led by legendary maestro. In 1992, the orchestra’s activities were suspended and terminated due to critical, severe social and military situation in Armenia.
Since 1997, the State Jazz Orchestra has begun its activities again continuing the glorious history of the orchestra led by A. Ayvazyan and K. Orbelyan. Artistic Director Armen Martirosyan and saxophone-soloist, musician Armen Hyusnunts added the orchestra with young musicians, enriched the playlist with new instrumental compositions in which the high performing mastery of the orchestra and professionalism were emphasized, the music , which is sounded, is in harmony with time.
Along with the well-known American compositions, the playlist is also featured new instrumentations which has national music tones and sounds in themselves and national instruments are also used. The orchestra resumed its concert activities, won numerous international awards, recorded 3 albums (“Mountin Dance”, “Armenian Jazz Band”, “Masisamba”). Since 2010, Armen Hyusnunts has been the orchestra’s artistic director and conductor.
The playlist of the orchestra was filled with hundreds of works. Today, the orchestra presents the broad repertoire, which include not only the world-famous jazz compositions, but also the 80-year-old legacy of Armenian jazz by playing beloved songs and instrumentals of Ayvazyan, Orbelyan, Babajanyan, Vardazaryan, Shakaryan, Amirkhanyan and Ajemian. Great attention is paid to the discovery, education and development of young Armenian talented musicians. The peculiarity of the modern tune of the orchestra is also emphasized by the works of contemporary Armenian composers – Artashes Kartalyan, Armen Martirosyan, Vahagn Hayrapetyan, Armen Hyusnunts, and Martin Ulikhanyan.
In recent years, the orchestra performed brilliantly in Russia, Belarus, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and France. Such internationally recognized soloists as DD Bridgewater, Adam Rapa, Igor Bootman, Hubert Tubbs, Sharon Clark, Chico Freeman, Arto Tunçboyaciyan, Tigran Hamasyan, Mariam Merabova, Michael Mayo, Richard Bona and others performed with the orchestra. Today, the orchestra also shines with young musician – soloists who attract attention with their brilliant individualities and mastery.
The activity of State Jazz Orchestra of Armenia is one of the pledges of development and promotion of jazz in Armenia.