Symphonic Middle East · 2021

8:00 pm


Armenian State Symphony Orchestra




piano (Belgium)
violin (USA)

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SAMIT Event Group in partnership with the European Foundation for Support of Culture present the 1st edition of the history classic music festival “Symphonic Middle East” aimed at identifying new cultural hubs and introducing the culture of classic music to every corner of the world. All the concerts will feature the talented 1st prize winners of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Competition.

On the 21st of June the patrons of the Theatre at Mall of the Emirates will enjoy the talent of the exceptional violinist Stella Chen - the winner of the Queen Elisabeth Grand Prize - Queen Mathilde Prize at the 2019 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition and technically flawless Denis Kozhukhin – one of the greatest pianists of our generation who successfully combines the brilliance and power of his playing with a masterful sense of form and a very unique approach.

The concert will be accompanied by the Armenian State Symphony orchestra under the direction of renowned conductor Sergey Smbatyan. His mature artistic vision combines lessons learned from the finest traditions of music-making and a profound personal commitment to transforming lives through the shared experience of performing and listening. Acclaimed for his achievements at home and increasingly in demand on the international stage, he continues to serve as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra and has been Principal Conductor of the Malta Philarmonic Orchestra since September 2019.

The soloists will perform master-pieces by renowned contemporary composer Alexey Shor and Pablo de Sarasate.


Alexey Shor

for Violin and Orchestra

1. Dance of the Graces
2. Elegy
3. Flight of a Falcon

Pablo de Sarasate 


Concert Fantasy
for Violin and Orchestra, Op.25

Alexey Shor

“From My Bookshelf”
Piano Concerto

1. Cinderella
2. Don Quixote
3. Tom Sawyer
4. Quasimodo
5. Queen or Hearts
6. d’Artagnan
7. King Matt the First
8. Romeo and Juliet

Sergey Smbatyan

Acclaimed as a cultural leader in his native Armenia and increasingly in demand on the international stage, Sergey Smbatyan is founder, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra. In September 2019 he became Principal Conductor of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra following highly successful tours of Germany, Austria and the United States, including performances at the Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna’s Musikverein and Carnegie Hall.

Music’s power to unite, heal and inspire has driven and sustained Smbatyan since childhood. His mature artistic vision combines lessons learned from the best traditions of Russian music-making and a profound personal commitment to transforming lives through the shared experience of performing and listening. The charismatic conductor’s reputation with fellow musicians and critics alike flows from his technical command, the intensity with which he shapes and communicates musical ideas, the intelligence of his programming, and the spiritual richness and depth of his interpretations.

Sergey Smbatyan was eighteen when he founded the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra in 2006. He has overseen its transformation since from youth ensemble into one of Armenia’s finest professional orchestras. They began 2020 with a landmark European tour, complete with debut appearances at Vienna’s Musikverein, the Berlin Philharmonie, Salzburg’s Großes Festspielhaus, the Barbican Hall in London, Moscow’s Zaryadye Concert Hall, the Gasteig Munich, Stuttgart’s Beethoven Hall and Prague’s Rudolfinum.

Smbatyan’s guest conducting career has flourished in recent seasons, leading to concerts with Sinfonia Varsovia, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and, among others, the Orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin. He returns to the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra during the 2020-21 season for a European tour comprising concerts at Wiesbaden’s Kurhaus and the Vienna Musikverein. His schedule also includes dates with the Malta Philharmonic, Russian National, Jerusalem Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras as part of the 2021 Malta International Music Festival. Smbatyan will conduct the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra on its first UK tour in September 2021, presenting ten concerts at leading venues in company with Maxim Vengerov as soloist

Known for his imaginative programming, Smbatyan is a determined champion of new music and supporter of emerging talent. He is founder and artistic director of four music festivals in Armenia, Artistic Director of the Aram Khachaturian International Competition and, in October 2019, conducted the WTIC World Orchestra in the first ever concert of music composed by artificial intelligence (AI). His repertoire embraces everything from masterworks of the western symphonic literature to compelling scores by Armenian and other Eastern European composers, many of them commissioned by or specially written for him.

Born in Yerevan in 1987, Sergey Smbatyan showed exceptional musical promise as a child. He received his first violin lessons from his grandmother, Tatiana Hayrapetyan, and continued his training at the Komitas State Conservatory of Yerevan, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and with Zakhar Bron. He refined his conducting skills while studying for a PhD in fine arts at the Institute of Arts of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences and as a postgraduate student at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he gained invaluable insights into the conductor’s art from Sir Colin Davis.

Sergey Smbatyan’s list of awards and prizes includes the title of Honoured Artist of the Republic of Armenia, presented by the President of the Republic of Armenia in recognition for his promotion of Armenian music and culture. In 2014 he became the youngest ever worker in the field of the arts and the first Armenian to be appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.

Denis Kozhukhin


Winner of the First Prize in the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels at the age of 23, Denis Kozhukhin has established himself as one of the greatest pianists of his generation.

Kozhukhin frequently appears with many of the leading international orchestras, such as Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony, Staatskapelle Berlin, Israel Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, among others.

The 20/21 brings debuts with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Malmo Symphony, Antwerp Symphony, ADDA Orchestra, Bilbao Symphony, Szcezcin Philharmonic, returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Belgium National Symphony, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony, Gavle Symphony, Colorado Symphony and NCPA Orchestra. Denis will tour in Europe and USA with Janine Jansen and appear in recital at the Boulez Saal, Elbphilharmonie, Wiener Konzerthaus, Casa da Musica, Harpa, and will be guest artist at the Prague Spring Festival, Malta International Festival, Klavier Ruhr Festival, Armenia Festival and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival.

His most recent recording featuring C. Franck’s Symphonic Variations with the Luxembourg Philharmonic under Gustavo Gimeno was released by Pentatone in June 2020, obtaining rave reviews. His last solo album, including Mendelssohn’s Songs without words and Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, was picked by Gramophone as “album of the month” as well as nominated to the 2020 Opus Klassik Awards in the categories of Solo recording and Instrumentalist of the year.

Stella Chen


Praised for her “phenomenal maturity” and “fresh and spontaneous, yet emotionally profound and intellectually well-structured performance” (Jerusalem Post), American violinist Stella Chen garnered worldwide attention with her first-prize win at the 2019 Queen Elizabeth International Violin Competition, followed by the 2020 Avery Fisher Career Grant and 2020 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award. 

Highlights of her 2020-21 season include concerto appearances throughout Europe, including her debut at Vienna’s Musikverein with the Mendelssohn Concerto; recitals at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC and at Germany’s Kronberg Academy; and her first appearances with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, which she joins in 2021-22 as a member of the Bowers program.

Her auspicious 2021-22 season will see her recital debut at Carnegie Hall as well as recital, concerto, and chamber music appearances throughout Europe, Asia, and North and South America, including debuts with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Kremerata Baltica, and New Japan Philharmonic, as well as appearances with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center both in New York and on tour.  

Stella’s most recent engagements include debuts with the Belgian National Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic and the Luxembourg Philharmonic, first appearances at the Salzburg Mozarteum, Ravinia, and Kronberg Academy Festivals, and performances throughout Europe, East Asia, and India. Originally scheduled appearances with the Chicago Symphony and the Juilliard Orchestra have been postponed because of the pandemic.

Stella has appeared as a chamber musician in festivals including the Perlman Music Program, Music@Menlo, the Sarasota Festival, and YellowBarn.

She is the first recipient of the Robert Levin Award from Harvard University, the top prize winner of the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition and youngest ever prize winner of the Menuhin Competition.

Armenian State Symphony Orchestra

Emerging from a group of lovers and devotees to classical music, the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra was created in 2005 by Sergey Smbatyan, the present Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the orchestra. From the very onset of its existence, the orchestra has been home to bright and energetic musicians, assembled around the shared vision of amplifying the cultural awareness in Armenia and elevating the spiritual excellence of human nature by the power of classical music.

The orchestra performs over 50 concerts annually, with a rich and multifarious repertoire covering multiple music genres and performance formats. Today, the 15-year-old orchestra has accrued both local and international reputation for its orchestral virtuosity and performing precision and has been spotlighted with many uplifting reviews by renowned critics and art reviewers.

The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra has been hosted by many reputable concert halls around the world, including Opera Garnier (Paris), Konzerthaus (Berlin), Dr. Anton Philipszaal (Hague), Tchaikovsky Concert Hall and the Great Hall of Conservatory (Moscow), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg), Royal Theatre (Madrid), Dubai Opera House and others. It has been profiled a multitude of times with such world-class composers as Krzysztof Penderecki, Sir Karl Jenkins, Giya Kanchelli and Tigran Mansuryan as well as a number of highly distinguished performing artists. A remarkable chapter in the history of the orchestra was the 2020 European Tour with the renowned violin virtuoso and the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra artist-in-residence Maxim Vengerov with whom brilliant performances were hosted on famous 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.

The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra has a history of close relationships with world-scale artists, such as Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Spivakov, Maxim Vengerov, Denis Matsuev, Vadim Repin, Vag Papian, Boris Berezovsky, Zakhar Bron, stemming from the orchestra’s lifelong endeavor to bridge Eastern and Western musical traditions through its performances and networking with prominent figures of classical music.

Led by Sergey Smbatyan, the orchestra released its first CD under the title "Music is the Answer” in 2011. Recorded with the Sony records label, the CD includes works by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitri Shostakovich and Eduard Hayrapetyan.

Aside from the extensive concert activity in Armenia and overseas, the orchestra also enjoys recognition and is highly esteemed for its increasing role in educating young people in Armenia. Since 2018, in the framework of DasA educational-cultural project the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra has been sparking interest and liking for classical music in high-school students across Armenia, with an attempt to galvanize a larger movement for cultivating noble insights and taste for classical music among the young generation. True to its commitment to foster access to classical music among all parts of the society and taking ownership of its social responsibilities, the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra frequently organizes charitable events and special projects in an attempt to engage people from different communities in the cultural life that largely unfolds away from them.

A number of orchestra’s concerts have been broadcast by, Euronews, and In 2019, a documentary was released by Mezzo TV, featuring Sergey Smbatyan and the history of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra.

The Armenian State Symphony Orchestra is represented worldwide by Only Stage.

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