Malta International Music Festival


26 April — 10 May 2020

Valletta • Floriana

Violin Fantasies

Malta Philharmonic Orchestra

Sergey Smbatyanconductor(Armenia)

Sergei Dogadinviolin(Russia)

Mediterranean Conference Centre

Sergey Smbatyan


Driven by an unwavering belief in the power of music to heal, unite and inspire, Sergey Smbatyan is one of the most gifted conductors of our days. From classrooms to grand concert halls, Smbatyan’s remarkable career of musical achievements and successful enhancement of young people’s access to the art in Armenia and around the world demonstrates music’s extraordinary capacity to transform lives.

Sergey Smbatyan was born in Yerevan in 1987, to a family of musicians. A devout advocate of music education and social development through art, Sergey’s pursuits were largely propelled by his childhood experiences of studying the violin first with Tatiana Hayrapetyan, his grandmother,, followed by renowned violinists Bagrat Vardanyan and Zakhar Bron.

He started his early musical career of a violinist with participation in a number of international competitions, having performed with the Moscow and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras as a soloist. As a conductor, Sergey has been significantly influenced by the late Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Muti and Valery Gergiev.

In 2009, Smbatyan graduated from Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory He then obtained a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from the Institute of Arts, a division of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. In 2012, Sergey graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Career Highlights

As a token of his earnest commitment to both serve and champion the development of music in Armenia, the 18-year-old musician founded the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia, which later was granted the status of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra (ASSO) by the Government of Armenia. Sergey Smbatyan has been the Orchestra's Artistic Director and Principal Conductor since its formation.

The establishment of the orchestra became the starting point of a new ambitious and rewarding musical career, inspired by a dream, later to be transformed into a consuming mission, to change people’s lives through the power of music.

Throughout these years, the Orchestra was admired for its unmatched commitment to new music, diversity and inclusion, and the development of groundbreaking digital initiatives. Under the leadership of Sergey Smbatyan, not only did ASSO become one of the leading orchestras in Armenia, but it shortly also gained international recognition and fame.

The orchestra has been hosted by most reputable concert halls in the world, including Opera Garnier (Paris), Konzerthaus (Berlin), Dr. Anton Philipszaal (Hague), Tchaikovsky Concert Hall and Great Hall of Conservatory (Moscow), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels),  Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg), Musikverein (Vienna), Madrid Royal Theatre and many others.

Participation in acclaimed international festivals and other musical events such as Moscow Easter Festival (Moscow, Russia), “Young Euro Classic” (Berlin, Germany), MIDEM in Cannes, “Kultursommer Nordhessen” (Cassel, Germany), “Young Classic Wratislavia” (Wrocław, Poland), Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival (Warsaw, Poland) are among the highlighted triumphs in the history of the Orchestra. 

By virtue of its exceptional talents, unique distinct sound profile and professionalism, the Orchestra is highly appreciated by a lrge number of renowned musicians of the world. Prominent artists like Valery Gergiev, Krzysztof Penderecki, Vladimir Spivakov, Maxim Vengerov, Denis Matsuev, Vadim Repin, Vag Papian, Boris Berezovsky, Zakhar Bron and many others are good friends of the team and cooperate with ASSO in the framework of diverse international musical projects. 

Under the baton of Sergey Smbatyan, the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra has been privileged to play as a resident orchestra at numerous international festivals and competitions, including Musica Riva International Festival (2013, Riva del Garda, Italy), the 9th Frederic Chopin International Competition for Young Pianists (2014, Foshan, China), Al Bustan International Festival (2014-2016, Beirut, Lebanon), Malta International Music Festival (2018, Malta), the annual Khachaturian International Competition (since 2007, Yerevan, Armenia), Armenian Composing Art Festival (since 2010, Yerevan, Armenia), Khachaturian International Festival (since 2013, Yerevan, Armenia), “Armenia” International Music Festival (since 2017, Yerevan, Armenia), “Contemporary Classics” Composers’ Festival (since 2017, Yerevan, Armenia).

A momentous point in Sergey Smbatyan's conducting career was his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, he conducted the joint Gala Concert with the distinguished artist Maxim Vengerov,  for HRH Prince Charles’ “Prince’s Trust” event at Buckingham Palace. The spectacular success of the concert earned it the right to be repeated at Buckingham Palace in 2011, with Smbatyan once again conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.

One of the few classical musicians of Armenian origin to reach mainstream audiences while maintaining the highest musical integrity, Smbatyan has had opportunities to perform with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, the DSO Berlin, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Munich Symphony Orchestra, the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra and with many others.

The European tour with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) in 2018 is among the conductor’s tremendous achievements. In the framework of the tour Sergey Smbatyan and the MPO performed at the Mediterranean Conference Hall, Valletta; Philharmonie Gasteig, Munich; Liederhalle, Beethoven Saal, Stuttgart, Kurhaus, Wiesbaden, Philharmonie, Berlin; Musikverein, Vienna. 

Later the same year, the tour continued in the USA, with performances at the Kimmel Center, Strathmore, Carnegie Hall, where the conductor was up the stage for the second time, as well as at the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory and the Mariinsky Theatre in Russia.

Sergey Smbatyan’s successful collaboration with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra was consolidated with the invitation to lead the orchestra as the Principal Conductor of MPO. So, in September 2019 the audiences musical world witnessed yet another exceptional collaboration between Sergey Smbatyan and the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Conductor’s career achievements and international success have been marked by well-established long-term productive collaboration and close relationships with world-renowned musicians, such as Maestro Krzysztof Penderecki, Sir Karl Jenkins, Giya Kanchelli, Tigran Mansuryan, John Malkovich and many other distinguished artists.

On Sergey Smbatyan’s initiative tribute concerts have been organized in Armenia for Maestro K.Penderecki (the 4th "Penderecki Music Days in Armenia" Concert Series dedicated to the 85th Jubilee of Maestro, 2018), G.Kanchelli (Giya Kanchelli Cultural Days in Yerevan, 2017), Tigran Mansuryan (Mansuryan Fest dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Maestro, 2019). Joint concerts have been organized with John Malkovich in Seoul, Moscow, Argentina and Armenia.

Sergey Smbatyan is the first Armenian conductor and the second Armenian musician to be featured in a Mezzo TV documentary. The 25-minute film dedicated to the work of the conductor and the history of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra. Released in 2019, the film has since been aired in 60 countries. The film will be hosted by Mezzo TV for the following five years, introducing the conductor’s portrait, his career path, vision and professional endeavors. 

Artistic And Humanitarian Initiatives

Sergey Smbatyan is one of the most decorated conductors of his generation. Constantly striving for innovation not only in the performance art of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra but also in his own profile as an artist and public figure, Sergey Smbatyan’s initiatives are large-scale, non-standard, bold and exceptional.

Sergey Smbatyan is the artistic director and the founder of 4 local and international festivals, 1 international music competition, 5 exclusive orchestras formed in the framework of significant events, 7 special musical projects and concert series, 7 educational projects. All of these initiatives were born around the idea that music unites and transforms lives.

Musical festivals founded by Smbatyan enjoy large popularity within the global musical community. Armenian Composing Art Festival, Khachaturian International Festival, “Armenia” International Music Festival, “Contemporary Classics” Composers’ Festival are unique celebrations of classical music that assemble the masterpieces of classical composers, artworks of contemporary artists and the best performers of our time from all over the world.

Khachaturian International Conducting Competition, a member of the prestigious musical family of World Federation of International Musical Competitions (WFIMC), aims to discover young talented conductors from across the world.

Special projects initiated by Sergey Smbatyan include large-scale concert series which stand out with innovative solutions and modern interpretations of famous musical works. Those concerts include and are not limited to the “Non-Stop” series, “Khachaturian and Jazz”, “A Travel to...”, “The Symphony Orchestra meets ...”, “Dolce Vitae” and several others.

Sergey Smbatyan is among the contemporary artists whose activity so frequently echoes to the realities of our times. On Smbatyan’s initiative, in the framework of various special events and celebrations, five exclusive orchestras have been formed: “24/04” World Orchestra, created in the framework of commemoration events of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide; the All-Armenian Choir and Orchestra “Generation of Independence”, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence; UNICEF Children’s Chamber Orchestra, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of a Child; Pan Armenian Symphony Orchestra, aiming to unite all Armenians around the world; WCIT World Orchestra, created in the framework of the 23rd World Congress of Information Technology, held in Armenia on October 6-9, 2019.  and with the aim to demonstrate and underline the importance of culture in the information technologies.

Over these years, Sergey Smbatyan’s creative initiatives and projects have galvanized enormous amounts of energy and enthusiasm of hundreds of musicians from across the world every corner of the planet. The international festivals and competition, that are among the most awaited musical events worldwide, unite most talented composers, performers and conductors.

Together with his team Sergey Smbatyan has been vastly contributing to the promotion of arts in Armenia. The musicians’ commitment to the development of cultural awareness and intelligence among the young generation is immense. Sharing a profound understanding of the role of quality education in the society’s progress and a social responsibility for the realization of this idea, they invest big energy, time and resources for the musical education of a whole generation.

Various educational programs implemented across Armenia have had visible success among pre-school children, high school and graduate students. The young generation is privileged with an exceptional opportunity to get acquainted with classical music and discover it in newer ways. Such programs are a big step forward to creating a progressive society.

“DasA” (“ClassA”) is one of the massive and most successful educational projects launched in 2018 for high school students in Armenia. The project’s mission is the popularization of classical music art and the transformation of the young generation’s attitude towards classical music. “DasA” has the ambition to propagate a new, highly qualified and educated society in Armenia.

Along with the educational programs for the general public, Sergey Smbatyan is also vigilant about the Armenian musicians’ continuous development. “The Master Creates Masters” is one of his outstanding educational projects. Carried out as series of master-classes conducted by world-known musicians, this project is a great contribution to the improvement of performing skills of the young Armenian musicians.

Other educational projects founded by Smbatyan aim at disseminating classical music among diverse target groups with a particular focus on the distant regions of Armenia. Together with the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, Smbatyan supports the young musicians in the regions to acquire musical instruments, helping them on the path of their musical career.

Sergey also displays active participation in charity projects. With the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, he has performed in numerous charitable and humanitarian events, spreading music to nursing homes, orphanages and universities throughout Armenia.

Honours And Prizes

During his professional career as a conductor, Sergey Smbatyan has received numerous distinctions in Armenia, and has been equally honoured with special awards and prizes abroad. 

In recognition of his extraordinary service to music, his activities in music education and contributions to the musical community, all of which are the cornerstones of his work in Armenia and abroad, Sergey was awarded with the title of “Honored Artist of the Republic of Armenia” by the President of the Republic of Armenia in 2016, as well as with a Gold Medal by the Mayor of Yerevan in 2017.

In May 2016, Sergey won the first prize of the new International Concert Competition "Debut Berlin". The laureate concert took place on June 1, 2016  at the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Hall.

Sergey is the youngest receiver of the Worker in Arts title in Armenia (awarded at the age of 27) and the first Armenian to be awarded the highest award of the Government of France in the field of art: the title of Chevalier of the “Order of Arts and Letters”, granted by the Minister of Culture and Communication of France.

Sergei Dogadin


After bright successes at the most precious violin competitions Sergei Dogadin acquired international fame as one of the best violinist of his generation. Among his most significant victories such major contents as XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition, IX Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition Hannover and Singapore International Violin Competition. Sergei is the grant-holder of the Russian Ministry of Culture, Prize-winner of the Mozart Society in Dortmund (Germany), winner of the award established by Maestro Yuri Temirkanov and winner of the Prize of the President of Russia. Sergei has been on tour in Russia, USA, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Austria, France, Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Serbia, Romania, Slovakia, Moldavia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Macao, Chile, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Since making his major debut in 2002 at the Grand Hall of the Saint Petersburg Philharmonie under the button of Vasily Petrenko and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic orchestra, Dogadin has performed on world’s most renowned venues such as Golden Hall of the "Musikverein" in Vienna, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Cologne Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, "Herkules-saal" and "Gasteig" in Munich, "Liederhalle" in Stuttgart, "Concertgebouw" and "Muziekgebouw" in Amsterdam, "Suntory Hall" in Tokyo, Symphony Hall in Osaka, Concert Hall "Kitara" in Sapporo, "Esplanade" Concert Hall in Singapore, "Festspielhaus" in Baden-Baden, Grand Theatre and Symphony Hall in Shanghai, "Auditorio Nacional" and "Palacio de Congresos" in Madrid, "Alte Oper" in Frankfurt, "Tonhalle" in Zurich and Dusseldorf, "Tivoli concert hall" in Copenhagen, Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, "Berwaldhallen" in Stockholm, collaborated together with London Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Frankfurter Museum Orchestra, Nordic Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, "Kremerata Baltica" Chamber Orchestra, Munich Kammerorchester, Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, "Bruno Walter" Symphony Orchestra, Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Polish Chamber Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, National Orchestras of Estonia and Latvia, State Symphony Orchestra of Russia as well as other foreign and Russian orchestras.

In 2003 Sergei Dogadin and the Ulster Symphony Orchestra recorded the Alexander Glazunov's violin concerto for BBC.

Many of Dogadin’s performances have been broadcasted worldwide – on Mezzo classic (France), “”, European Broadcasting Union (EBU), BR Klassic, WDR and NDR Kultur (Germany), YLE Radio (Finland), NHK (Japan), BBC (UK), Australian Radio, Polish Radio, Estonian and Latvian Radio.

Sergei has taken part in festivals “Stars of the White Nights”, “Musical collection”, “Musical Olympus”, “Arts Square”, “Crescendo”, Trans-Siberian Art Festival, Mstislav Rostropovich festival, George Enescu festival, Tivoli festival, Herbstfestspiele Baden-Baden, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, “Festival International de Colmar”, Oleg Kagan Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, “Vladimir Spivakov Invites”, “Chopin and his Europe”, Baltic Sea Festival, “Vivarte”, Singapore Violin Festival etc.

He has collaborated with such prominent conductors as Valery Gergiev, Yury Temirkanov, Vladimir Ashkenazi, Vassily Sinaisky, Vladimir Spivakov, Yuri Simonov, Manfred Honeck, Andrew Manze, Shlomo Mintz, Aldo Ceccato, Thomas Sanderling, Vasily Petrenko, Anu Tali, Muhai Tang, Ken Takaseki, Dmitry Liss, Alexander Sladkovsky, Alexander Dmitriev, Nikolay Alekseev, Saulus Sondeckis, Michail Tatarnikov, Alexander Rudin, Nicholas Carter, Ken-David Mazur, Kevin Griffiths, Fabio Mastrangelo, Michał Nesterowicz, Jack Martin Haendler and many others.
Sharing the stage with an outstanding musicians is an important part of Sergei's concert life. Among his partners: Elisabeth Leonskaja, Viktor Tretiakov, David Geringas, Boris Kuschnir, Denis Matsuev, Daniil Trifonov, Alexander Kniazev, Narek Hakhnazaryan, Maxim Rysanov, Plamena Mangova, Nikolai Tokarev, Tatiana Vasileva, Dimitri Illarionov, Vadim Holodenko, Julian Milkis, Alexei Ogrintchouk, Boris Andrianov, Lars Anders Tomter, Gil Shohat, Anna Vinnitskaya and others.

Dogadin had studied in the most famous and significant musical institutions: at the St.Petersburg Conservatory (with Prof. Vladimir Ovcharek), at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Gstaad (with Prof. Maxim Vengerov), at the High School of Music in Cologne (with Prof. Mihaela Martin) and at the University of Music in Graz (with Prof. Boris Kuschnir).
Currently, Sergei improves his skills with Prof. Boris Kuschnir at the Music and Arts University in Vienna.

In 2008 he has released his first CD album on the “Solo Musica” label (Munich, Germany), including the compositions by Peter Tchaikovsky, Sergey Rachmaninov, Sergey Prokofiev and Alexander Rosenblatt.
The 2017/2018 season brought the release of two CD albums:

  •  Shostakovich – Violin concerto № 1 with the State Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Tatarstan under the direction of Maestro A. Sladkovsky, (“Melody” label);
  •  Shostakovich – Sonata for violin and piano and his 24 preludes (arrangement for violin and piano by D.Tsyganov/L.Auerbach), (“Naxos” label).

Since 2017 Sergei Dogadin is a guest professor at the Liangzhu International Arts Academy (China) and the Gracias Music Academy at the School of Mahanaim (USA).

At the same time he constantly gives masterclasses in South Korea, Singapore, Latvia and Azerbaijan.

Sergei was invited as a jury member at the 4th Yankelevitch International Violin Competition and Vladimir Spivakov International Violin Competition.

Sergei Dogadin had enjoyed the honor of performing during several festivals on Niccolo Paganini’s and Johann Strauss’s violins.

At the moment he plays the Domenico Montagnana violin (Venice, 1721) provided by "The Rin Collection" (Singapore).

Malta Philharmonic Orchestra

For half a century, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra has been Malta’s leading musical ensemble. The orchestra was founded in April 1968, when musicians from the defunct “C-in-C” Orchestra of the Malta-based British Mediterranean Fleet regrouped as the Manoel Theatre Orchestra. It continued to serve as the theatre’s resident orchestra until September 1997, when it became an independent orchestra, taking up National Orchestra of Malta as its name. The orchestra became the MPO in 2008 when it expanded into a full-size symphony orchestra, bringing together the best of Maltese talent and musicians from Europe and beyond.

Joseph Sammut, the C-in-C’s last conductor, was the orchestra’s first conductor, remaining at the helm until 1992. Since then, the orchestra has also been under the direction of Joseph Vella, Michael Laus, and Brian Schembri.

This season, the MPO has appointed Raoul Lay as its Artistic Director, together with Sergey Smbatyan as Principal Conductor and Michael Laus as Resident Conductor. The MPO also works with local and international guest conductors and soloists including Lawrence Renes, Michalis Economou, Guy Braunstein and Enrico Dindo.

 As Malta’s only professional orchestra, the MPO averages more than one performance a week including symphonic concerts, opera productions in Malta and Gozo, community outreach and educational initiatives, as well as various concerts of a lighter nature.

The orchestra has performed in leading venues across the globe, including in the USA, Russia, Germany, Austria, China, Italy, and Belgium. Presently it embarks on at least one international tour each concert season.

The MPO is a keen exponent of Maltese composers, regularly performing their works in Malta and overseas, as well as frequently premiering and commissioning new compositions.

Through the MPO Academy and the Malta Youth Orchestra, which itself regularly gives concerts around Malta, the MPO is also responsible for the training and professional development of the next generation of Maltese musicians.


Alexey Shor

Violin Concerto

Soloist: Sergey Dogadin violin

Maurice Ravel


Claude Debussy

La Mer

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