Malta International Music Festival

2021

28-06

15 June - 13 July 2022

28
June
8pm
28-06

Malta Philharmonic Orchestra

Sergey Smbatyanconductor(Armenia)

Yekwon Sunwoopiano(South Korea)

St Julian’s
Hilton, Grand Masters suite


Sergey
Smbatyan

Conductor

Extending far beyond his native Armenia, Sergey Smbatyan’s renown and prolific musical career feed on his inexorable vision to make the world a better place through music, culture and spiritual enrichment of people. Sergey Smbatyan’s robust endeavors have earned an array of achievements for the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, of which he is the Founder, Artistic Director, and Principal Conductor, as well as the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, which he has been leading as the Principal Conductor since September, 2019. Born to a family of musicians, Sergey’s journey in the world of classical music started with violin studies first with his grandmother Tatiana Hayrapetyan, followed by the classes with violinists Bagrat Vardanyan, Zakhar Bron and Yuri Davtyan. A graduate of Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Smbatyan also graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2012. He also holds a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from the Institute of Arts, a division of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences.

The conservatory undergraduate Sergey Smbatyan lay the foundation of the future Armenian State Symphony Orchestra in 2005, assembling like-minded young fellows into a youth orchestra that would champion classical music in Armenia and promote Armenian musical heritage worldwide. The future achievements awaiting the orchestra along its journey proved the visceral faith of its founder to be an infallible foresight. Throughout the 2020 concert tour with the renowned violin virtuoso and the orchestra’s artist-in-residence Maxim Vengerov brilliant performances were hosted on reputable stages around Europe - Berliner Philharmonie, Vienna's Musikverein, London's Barbican Center,  Prague's Dvorak Hall, Salzburg's Grosses Festspielhaus, Moscow's Zaryadye Concert Hall and elsewhere.

Sergey Smbatyan also holds a rich record of conducting experience with foreign orchestras, including, among many others, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. A significant highlight in his international conducting career was the 2019 invitation he received to lead the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra as its Principal Conductor. Prior to this commitment too, the collaboration with the MPO had long been harvesting remarkable success throughout the MPO’s concert tours across the world - from Vienna’s Musikverein to New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Among Sergey Smbatyan’s most cherished and sustainable legacies of are his self-founded 4 music festivals (Armenian Composing Art Festival, Khachaturian International Festival, “Armenia” International Music Festival and “Contemporary Classics” Composers’ Festival), as well as the introduction of “Conducting” category in the annual Khachaturian International Competition, which is a member of the prestigious World Federation of International Musical Competitions (WFIMC). Other valuable enterprises include 5 exclusive orchestras formed in the framework of significant events, 7 special musical projects and concert series and 7 educational projects, the most massive and impactful of the letter being “DasA” (literally- “ClassA), launched in 2018. Targeting high school students in Armenia, this project’s mission focuses on the popularization of classical music and positive transformation in the young generation’s attitude towards classical music.

By virtue of his relentless and creative outlooks, Smbatyan always pursues new dimensions for innovative artistry and embarks on novel initiatives in the Armenian cultural context. In the framework of the “WCIT 2019”, the largest IT Congress for innovators and entrepreneurs hosted in 2019 by Armenia, an orchestra of 100 musicians from fifteen countries assembled under the Smbatyan’s baton to play the first ever AI real-time-composed music at the opening ceremony of the event as a symbolic demonstration of the ever-growing prospect of dialogue between traditional classical music performance and the technological advancements of the new era.

In 2015, Sergey Smbatyan received the title of Chevalier of the “Order of Arts and Letters”, awarded by the Minister of Culture and Communication of France. In 2017, the honorary title of “Worker in Arts of Armenia” was conferred on him for the great merit in rearing of creative generation. In 2019, a documentary was released by Mezzo TV, featuring Sergey Smbatyan and the history of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra. Extending far beyond his native Armenia, Sergey Smbatyan’s renown and prolific musical career feed on his inexorable vision to make the world a better place through music, culture and spiritual enrichment of people. Sergey Smbatyan’s robust endeavors have earned an array of achievements for the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, of which he is the Founder, Artistic Director, and Principal Conductor, as well as the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, which he has been leading as the Principal Conductor since September, 2019. Born to a family of musicians, Sergey’s journey in the world of classical music started with violin studies first with his grandmother Tatiana Hayrapetyan, followed by the classes with violinists Bagrat Vardanyan, Zakhar Bron and Yuri Davtyan. A graduate of Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Smbatyan also graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2012. He also holds a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from the Institute of Arts, a division of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences. The conservatory undergraduate Sergey Smbatyan lay the foundation of the future Armenian State Symphony Orchestra in 2005, assembling like-minded young fellows into a youth orchestra that would champion classical music in Armenia and promote Armenian musical heritage worldwide. The future achievements awaiting the orchestra along its journey proved the visceral faith of its founder to be an infallible foresight. Throughout the 2020 concert tour with the renowned violin virtuoso and the orchestra’s artist-in-residence Maxim Vengerov brilliant performances were hosted on reputable stages around Europe - Berliner Philharmonie, Vienna's Musikverein, London's Barbican Center, Prague's Dvorak Hall, Salzburg's Grosses Festspielhaus, Moscow's Zaryadye Concert Hall and elsewhere. Sergey Smbatyan also holds a rich record of conducting experience with foreign orchestras, including, among many others, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. A significant highlight in his international conducting career was the 2019 invitation he received to lead the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra as its Principal Conductor. Prior to this commitment too, the collaboration with the MPO had long been harvesting remarkable success throughout the MPO’s concert tours across the world - from Vienna’s Musikverein to New York’s Carnegie Hall. Among Sergey Smbatyan’s most cherished and sustainable legacies of are his self-founded 4 music festivals (Armenian Composing Art Festival, Khachaturian International Festival, “Armenia” International Music Festival and “Contemporary Classics” Composers’ Festival), as well as the introduction of “Conducting” category in the annual Khachaturian International Competition, which is a member of the prestigious World Federation of International Musical Competitions (WFIMC). Other valuable enterprises include 5 exclusive orchestras formed in the framework of significant events, 7 special musical projects and concert series and 7 educational projects, the most massive and impactful of the letter being “DasA” (literally- “ClassA), launched in 2018. Targeting high school students in Armenia, this project’s mission focuses on the popularization of classical music and positive transformation in the young generation’s attitude towards classical music. By virtue of his relentless and creative outlooks, Smbatyan always pursues new dimensions for innovative artistry and embarks on novel initiatives in the Armenian cultural context. In the framework of the “WCIT 2019”, the largest IT Congress for innovators and entrepreneurs hosted in 2019 by Armenia, an orchestra of 100 musicians from fifteen countries assembled under the Smbatyan’s baton to play the first ever AI real-time-composed music at the opening ceremony of the event as a symbolic demonstration of the ever-growing prospect of dialogue between traditional classical music performance and the technological advancements of the new era. In 2015, Sergey Smbatyan received the title of Chevalier of the “Order of Arts and Letters”, awarded by the Minister of Culture and Communication of France. In 2017, the honorary title of “Worker in Arts of Armenia” was conferred on him for the great merit in rearing of creative generation. In 2019, a documentary was released by Mezzo TV, featuring Sergey Smbatyan and the history of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra.


“The conductor led the orchestra with an uncommon attention to detail, skillfully guiding the musicians through the whole performance. His hands were clear and precise; this was a performance of great dignity and nobility. A highly successful and passionate performance!”.

Hessisch Niedersächsische Allgemeine

Yekwon
Sunwoo

piano

Gold medallist of the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Yekwon Sunwoo has been hailed for his “unfailingly consistent excellence” (International Piano) and celebrated as “a pianist who commands a comprehensive technical arsenal that allows him to thunder without breaking a sweat” (Chicago Tribune). A powerful and virtuosic performer, he also, in his own words, “strives to reach for the truth and pure beauty in music”.

The first Korean to win Cliburn Gold, Yekwon’s 19/20 season includes appearances with Fort Worth and Tuscon Symphonies and the Bucheon Philharmonic and debuts with Washington Chamber Orchestra, Royal Danish Orchestra and Danish Radio Orchestra amongst others as well as a debut appearance at the Vail Festival with Dallas Symphony. Recital highlights include Four Season Arts, San Antonio Arts and the Stadttheater Aschaffenburg. 20/21 will see Yekwon make his debut with Orchestra Chambre de Paris and Tugan Sokhiev and return to KBS Symphony with Jaap Van Zweeden. 

In previous seasons, he has performed as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop, Houston Symphony, National Orchestra of Belgium, Sendai Philharmonic and Royal Scottish National Orchestra amongst others. Recital appearances include Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Elbphilharmonie, Salle Cortot and Kumho Art Hall. 

An avid chamber musician, Yekwon’s collaborators include Benjamin Beilman, Linus Roth, Andrei Ioniță, Sebastian Bohren, Isang Enders, Tobias Feldmann, Gary Hoffman, Anne-Marie McDermott and the Jerusalem and Brentano Quartets. He has also toured Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama with the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation, performed at Chamber Music of Lincoln Center’s Inside Chamber Music Lectures and been invited to the Summit Music, Bowdoin International and Toronto Summer Music Festivals. 

In addition to the Cliburn Gold Medal, Yekwon won first prizes at the 2015 International German Piano Award, the 2014 Vendome Prize held at the Verbier Festival, the 2013 Sendai International Music Competition and the 2012 William Kapell International Piano Competiton. 

Born in Anyang, South Korea, Yekwon began learning the piano at the age of 8 and made his recital and orchestral debuts in Seoul at 15. His teachers include Seymour Lipkin, Robert McDonald, Richard Goode and Bernd Goetzke. 

In 2017, Decca Gold released Cliburn Gold 2017 two weeks after Yekwon was awarded the Gold Medal and includes his award-winning performances of Ravel’s La Valse and Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata. 

A self-proclaimed foodie, Yekwon enjoys finding Pho in each city he vists and takes pride in his own homemade Korean soups. 

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.

Programme

Coming soon...

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