The Suni Project: Music Preservation

Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939)

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

Suni Project History

Grikor Mirzaian Suni >>
Gourgen (George) Suny >>
Seda Suny >>
Siran Suny Kazanjian >>

Grikor Mirzayants-Suni Chorus Shushi 1902 / 3 academic year

The Suni Project was formed in 1992, under the guidance of Grikor Mirzaian Suni‘s son, Gourgen (George) Suny, to collect, preserve and present Suni’s music through recordings, publications, and performances. Gourgen (George) Suny was himself a conductor and arranger of Armenian music. He coached the singers for our first CD recording (1997), “Armenian Songs of Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939): Vocal Solos and Duets“, and for our first big concert of all-Suni songs, at the University of Michigan’s Rackham Auditorium in Ann Arbor, March 5, 1994. He opened the archive which he’d inherited from his father, and taught us the music.

Before he died, he asked his daughter-in-law to carry on with Suni’s music. After Gourgen (George) Suny‘s death, his archive moved from Philadelphia to Ann Arbor, Michigan with his son Ronald Grigor Suny and wife Armena Marderosian.

Grikor Mirzaian Suni created the Armenian Musical Society of America (American-Armenian Musical Society) and led Suni Choruses in several US cities, 1924-1939. He’d created Armenian folk choruses in every population of Armenians he’d lived among, starting with his hometown of Shushi (Armenian region Russian empire) in 1895, and towns in the Middle East as well as St. Petersburg, Russia and India. He created and conducted orchestras, and organized Armenians into community choruses to lead them in his own concert arrangements of their own native music. He wrote many original works including vocal solos and duets, orchestral suites, instrumental solos, operetta, and opera. He worked with people to elevate and inspire them with high art, and also to organize them. He recognized the power of music, and the need for music.

Suni’s son Gourgen (George) Suny sang in the choruses, and when Suni died after conducting choruses for 49 years, this son picked up the baton himself to lead Armenian choruses for over 40 years. Suni’s other sons, Reuben, Souren, and Armen also were involved. Suni’s daughters Siran and Seda sang in his choruses, and both danced. Seda was a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher and artistic director who spoke about her father’s work on her 1986 Voice of America interview.