The Suni Project: Music Preservation

Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939)

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December 29, 2009 Suni concert in Armenia

Photo Tuesday December 29, 2009 Yerevan, Armenia. 4pm Suni Concert at Toumanian Museum; all four Suni family in this presentation of music of Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939) featuring music that Suni wrote to poems of his friend Hovhaness Toumanian. Toumanian’s photo is on the wall behind the whole family (left to right) Sevan Suni, Armena Marderosian, Anoush Suni, Ronald Suny (violin, piano, voice + oud, lecture).

Hovhannes Toumanian Museum concert of Music of Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939) in Yerevan, Armenia, Tuesday December 29, 2009 4pm. To feature the friendship and collaboration of these two giants of Armenian culture, the museum invited Suni’s family to give this concert. Poet Hovhanes Toumanian (1869-1923) and composer Grikor Mirzaian Suni were neighbors in Tiflis (Tbilisi). Mirzaian-Suni wrote songs to some of Toumanian’s poems. This concert featured two of these songs, played in recording, “Indz Mi Khndrir (Beeseech Me Not)” sung by soprano Elisabeth Pehlivanian with pianist Armena Marderosian, and “Yete Mi Or (If One Day)” sung by baritone Gourgen (George) Suny, 84-year-old son of the composer, with pianist Armena Marderosian, wife of Gourgen Suny’s son Professor Ronald Grigor Suny.
Also in recording we heard Suni’s daughter Seda Suny, age 80, singing and accompanying herself at the piano in “Sareri Hovin Mernim” the great aria from Suni’s opera Aregnazan. The concert was introduced by Artsvi Bakhchinyan, and opened by Professor Ronald Grigor Suny, to tell the story of his grandfather’s life and music. The live music opened with Suni’s great granddaughter violinist Sevan Suni playing eight works as violin solos with her mother Armena Marderosian at the piano: Tooy-Tooy, Oy Nazanum, Hoontzk, Dil Lyoo Lyoo, Tsoren Em Tsaner, O Yaro, Aghgeg Es, and Kyankn Anoush. Next Suni’s great granddaughter singer Anoush Suni sang three songs with her mother at the piano: Tsoren Em Tsaner, Gatsek Amper, and Nenni Bala. Next Anoush played her oud while she sang Ha Klor. People were interested to see the oud, still little known in eastern Armenia.
These works are for voice. Some are original, and some are folk song arrangements, composed for soloists or four-part chorus by Grikor Mirzaian Suni. Last, Anoush reminded the audience of the friendship of colleagues Grikor Mirzaian Suni and composer Komitas (Soghomon Soghomonyan 1869-1935), who were together in Etchmiadzin in the 1890’s collecting Armenian folk music. Mirzaian-Suni and Komitas each made his own arrangement of Shogher Jan. a sweet love song. Anoush sang the Komitas version of Shogher Jan inviting the audience to sing along with her for a warm ending to a concert that opened many ears and eyes to beauties of Armenian music as created by founders of modern Armenian music and literature, Grikor Mirzaian Suni, Komitas, and Hovhanness Toumanian.

The presenters:

  • Artsvi Bakhchinyan, introduction to speaker
  • Ronald Grigor Suny, speaker, grandson of Grikor Mirzaian Suni
  • Sevan Suni, violin, great granddaughter of Suni
  • Anoush Suni, soprano, oud, great granddaughter of Suni
  • Armena Marderosian, piano