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Raffi Armenian: Biography

Raffi Armenian
1942 -
Region: Québec

Raffi Armenian

Raffi Armenian is probably best known as one of Canada's foremost conductors having worked with such ensembles as the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary and Hamilton philharmonics, the Toronto and Montréal Symphony orchestras, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Born in Egypt in 1942 of Armenian parents, Armenian began the study of the piano at the age of ten. After a successful debut in a performance of a Mozart piano concerto, he continued his studies under Prof. B. Seidlhofer at the Academy of Music in Vienna, receiving an artist's diploma in piano in 1962. In 1963 he emigrated to Canada and made Canada his home. Mr. Armenian's subsequent academic honors include a Bachelor of Science from the University of London, and diplomas in conducting and composition from the Academy of Music in Vienna, where, as a recipient of a Canada Council Grant, he studied under Profs. Swarowsky, Schmid and Uhl. During this time, he also received vocal training from Prof. F. Grossman, musical director of the Vienna Boys' Choir.

Mr. Armenian has achieved much distinction in many international competitions, not only as a pianist, but also as a composer and conductor. In 1964, he was awarded a diploma at the International Piano Competition in Geneva, Switzerland, and was a finalist at the International Conductors' Competition at Besancon, France in 1968 and the Karajan Competition in 1972. In 1969, his composition, "Suite Decompose," earned him a place as finalist in the International Composers' Competition in Vercelli, Italy. Mr. Armenian's conducting merits are well known throughout Canada, where he has been associated in recent years with the Atlantic Symphony in Halifax and the Canadian Opera Company, with whom he performed Rossini's "Barber of Siville" at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 1970. Following an audition in 1969, he was appointed apprentice to Karel Ancerl, music director of the Toronto Symphony. Both as a pianist and as conductor of the Atlantic Symphony, he has been heard often on the CBC national network. In 1971, he was appointed musical director and conductor of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra (Ontario) and combines his duties with a professorship at Waterloo Lutheran University.

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