Heritage & Legacy: The Armenian Suite

Date: October 21, 2022
Author: Susan Abercrombie

People’s paths cross every day in so many different ways. On the way to work. At the coffee shop. Scrolling through posts on our social media channels. Even now, my path has crossed with yours as you decided to read this blog post. Some of these crossings are just that: fleeting moments of acknowledgement as we carry on about our days. Others initiate a sense of abiding lastingness, and, doubtlessly, they do so for a reason. One of the pieces that will be performed in our upcoming Masterworks concert, Native Voices, is a result of this kind of path-crossing.

Armenian Suite, the third piece that will be performed on November 6th, was written and composed by Richard Yardumian. Yardumian was born in Pennsylvania in 1917. He wrote six of the seven movements of Armenian Suite, a distinct nod to his Armenian heritage, at the age of nineteen. In 1954, when he was in his mid-thirties, the seventh movement was added at the request of Eugene Ormandy. Yardumian composed many pieces in addition to Armenian Suite, most of which were premiered and performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Beyond his musical career, Yardumian was a WWII veteran, the music director for a church in his hometown of Bryn Athyn, a husband, and a father of thirteen children. This is where we get to the path-crossing part…The ninth of his children, Esther Yardumian-Smyth, just so happens to live right here in the Grand Strand.

LBS Honorary Lifetime Director and former board president, Ray Heider, met Esther one evening by happenstance in their neighborhood in Pawleys Island. After conversing about their shared interest in classical music and Esther’s patronage as a season subscriber at the Long Bay Symphony, Esther mentioned her father’s work as a composer. After spending the evening listening to Yardumian’s work, Ray brought the connection between Richard Yardumian, Esther, and the Long Bay Symphony to our maestro, Dr. Charles Evans, who was, of course, familiar with Yardumian’s compositions. Since then, we have been excited to incorporate one of Yardumian’s pieces into our Masterworks programming. What better piece to include in Native Voices, a presentation of pieces from composers who were influenced by their heritages, than Yardumian’s Armenian Suite?

To hear more from Esther about her experiences growing up and how she came to the Grand Strand, follow the link here to listen to an interview conducted by Dr. Evans: https://youtu.be/WM7t2eQzafQ.

(The photos below are graciously provided by Esther Yardumian-Smyth)


([Top:] Anshel Brusilow, Eugene Ormandy, and Richard Yardumain with the Yardumian Violin Concerto; [Left] Richard Yardumian, pianist Rudolf Firkusny, and Eugene Ormandy going over the RY Piano Concerto; [Right:] Richard Yardumian bowing after the playing of the Yardumian Violin Concerto)

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