The Suni Project: Music Preservation

Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939)

1723 Wells | Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3601 USA | (734) 996-1949 |

Gourgen (George) Suny

Young Gourgen


Gourgen (George) Suny (1910-1995) Conductor of the Philadelphia Suni Chorus from 1940

After Suni’s death, Gourgen became the conductor of the Philadelphia Suni Choruses, conducting into the 1980’s. Gourgen (George) Suny was the major advisor of The Suni Project: Music Preservation, and of the performances for our 1997 CD recording, “Armenian Songs of Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939): Vocal Solos and Duets”. He sang for this Suni Project recording on his 84th birthday, July 29, 1994. We have also other recordings of his singing which have yet to be mastered for CD. Gourgen (George) Suny and his wife Arax Kesdekian Suny’s two children are Ronald Grigor Suny and Linda Suny Myrsiades. Gourgen (George) in Philadelphia and Seda in New York stayed close all their lives and to their other siblings- sister Siran, and brothers Reuben, Souren, and Armen.

Listen online: Gourgen (George) Suny conducts the Suni Chorus (combined Philadelphia and New York Suni Choruses), soloists, and orchestra in Philadelphia in 1940 >>

Listen online: Gourgen (George) Suny conducts the Armenian chorus with soloists and orchestra at the Philadelphia Academy of Music in 1971 >>

Listen online: Gourgen (George) Suny sings at age 84 in this 1994 recording >>

“My father’s music is HARMONY!” Gourgen (George) Suny pointed out his that among his father’s greatest contributions to Armenian music was his harmonic enrichment of the Armenian folk songs (which were traditionally performed with a single voice, a sole melody). Grikor Mirzaian Suni created a beautiful four-part harmonic language for the folk songs which sounds uniquely “Suni” and still “sounds Armenian”. Suni created lively contrapuntal lines for the four voices, often rhythmically independent, to create a fascinating and rich polyphony. For such folk songs, Grikor Mirzaian Suni creates a shimmering coat of many colors!

Gourgen (George) Suny and sister, Seda Suny.

Gourgen (George) Suny insisted that every piece of his father’s presented in any performance and on our CD recording, “Armenian Songs of Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939): Vocal Solos and Duets”, be performed with the full four parts Suni had written. At a past performance of Suni’s works, a solo singer performed some of Suni’s songs a capella with no accompaniment, leaving out the harmony, (leaving out the “parts”-the other vocal lines). Gourgen (George) Suny protested, saying “My father’s music is HARMONY!”

On our 1997 CD recording with piano and voice, “Armenian Songs of Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939): Vocal Solos and Duets”, for all the choral songs except #30 “Lorik (Quail)” which we performed with four singers SATB and piano, and #27 “Aghgeg Es (You’re Lovely)” which we performed as a duet, with two singers and piano, we had one singer for the melody while we played all the choral parts on piano. We presented all the parts as Suni had created them, however with piano and one singer instead of with a choir with four sections of singers SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass).

Suni’s music, like that of Bach, is so contrapuntally rich that it can be performed with any set of instruments, even as piano solo or organ solo. The choral works are wonderful music even without their words, when performed with instruments rather than singers, like a vocalise. Suni’s music, with its vibrant polyphony, stands well on its own without the words. We often perform his music this way, with a solo instrument such as violin or flute with piano, also with any chamber ensemble of instruments. For example for the duets, you can have flute and violin, viola or cello.

Of course, to have singers in a four-part choir is the true, ideal performance of Suni’s many choral works. If however you don’t have a chorus, you can still perform “Suni” with all the parts alive. “My father’s music is harmony”.