How It All Started...
The State Jazz Orchestra of Armenia was officially founded in 1938 by a cellist, songwriter and composer Artemy Ayvazyan. In a very short time it gained wide recognition performing with numerous concerts and tours. During the Second World War the Orchestra performed a lot at full length of the front. It included talented and bright names of Armenian jazz pioneers. Since 1956, the pianist and composer Konstantin Orbelyan became the conductor of the orchestra and had been leading it for 36 years, gaining international recognition. The orchestra repeatedly performed in many countries such as Tunisia, Poland, Germany, France, Lebanon, Syria and so on. In 1975 exceptional tours took place in the United States.
The orchestra's activities were suspended and terminated due to critical, severe social and military situation in Armenia in 1992.
Saxophonist, bandleader, composer, arranger, conductor
Born on December 28, 1966, Armen Hyusnunts completed his studies at the piano and saxophone departments of Sayat-Nova Musical School, and in 1984 entered the saxophone department of Yerevan State Conservatory after Komitas. From 1985 to 1987, while serving in the army, Hyusnunts played in Moscow Special Military Exemplary Band of the Honor Guard, and continued his studies afterwards, graduating in 1991. Later, in 1993, he got a postgraduate degree in the same conservatory.
His pedagogical experience began in 1987 as a saxophone teacher in several music schools of Yerevan. A year later he was invited to Artashes Kartalyan’s Jazz Quartet, and from 1988 to 1989 he played in the Armenian State Jazz Band, led by Konstantin Orbelyan, as a soloist and lead alto saxophone player. In 1990 Hyusnunts was invited to perform with the State TV and Radio Jazz-Symphonic Orchestra of Armenia, as the lead saxophone player for two years. In 1996, toghether with pianist and composer Khachik Sahakyan, he created the ethnic jazz quintet called “Time Report”, where some of his original compositions and instrumental arrangements of Armenian songs were published in three albums. It’s hard to get a full picture of “Time Report” without Armen Hyusnunts’ unique style, which has influenced the development of Armenian folk-jazz in a significant way. In 1998 a world-famous musician Arto Tunjboyajyan created the “Armenian Navy Band” and invited Hyusnunts to play in it. Together with this band, Hyusnunts appeared in numerous festivals and concerts around the world.
Along with playing jazz, Armen Hyusnunts also regularly performs classical and contemporary music. In 2000 he founded “ArtaSax” Saxophone Quartet, the repertoire of which mainly consists of classical or contemporary music, along with arrangements made by Hyusnunts specially for the saxophone quartet. Hyusnunts made a big contribution in the extension of saxophone quartet’s repertoire with his arrangements.
Hyusnunts' pedagogical activity continued in Yerevan State College of Pop and Jazz Art, where he has taught for six years (2000-2006) and at Yerevan State Conservatory from 2004 to 2006. Since 1997, Armen Hyusnunts has been working as the solo-saxophonist and music director of the Armenian State Jazz Orchestra. Armen's talent as a conductor, bandleader, composer and arranger reached its peak when he was appointed artistic director of the Armenian State Jazz Orchestra in 2010. The repertoire of the big band includes a large number of his compositions and arrangements.
Armen Hyusnunts has participated in numerous international festivals, toured with different groups in USA, Europe, Japan, Middle East аnd played with many famous artists, such as Vardan Ovsepyan, Armen Donelyan, Tigran Hamasyan, Hadriеn Feraud, Joe Zawinul, Richard Bona, Adam Rapa, etc. He has performed at numerous renowned events and tours, such as World Expo 2000 in German, Hannover, Beyt Hedin music festival in Lebanon (July, 2000), Vienna Jazz Festival (August 2001), Netherlands SKIF Festival (October 2001), Japan World Expo, Aichi (June 2005), Syria Jazz Caravan Festival (August, 2008), Dubai Jazz Festival (October 2008), Shanghai World Expo (June, 2010), Morgenland Festival Osnabrück (September 2016) and many other festivals and concerts across Europe and Asia.
He has performed at numerous renowned events and tours, such as World Expo 2000 in German, Hannover, Beyt Hedin music festival in Lebanon (July, 2000), Vienna Jazz Festival (August 2001), Netherlands SKIF Festival (October 2001), Japan World Expo, Aichi (June 2005), Syria Jazz Caravan Festival (August, 2008), Dubai Jazz Festival (October 2008), Shanghai World Expo (June, 2010), Morgenland Festival Osnabrück (September 2016) and many other festivals and concerts across Europe and Asia.Together with the performances on the large festival scenes, Hyusnunts appears regularly in international renowned club scenes such as Catalina and Baked Potato (Los Angeles), New Morning (Paris), Porgy and Bess, Birdland (Vienna), Esse Jazz-club, Kozlov-club (Moscow), Chorus (Lausanne) as well as on different stages in his hometown, Yerevan.
During the last years Hyusnunts’ collaboration with jazz pianist Vahagn Hayrapetyan has become very noticeable. The performances of these artists as a duet is especially significant, as well as their interaction within ensembles such as AVA Trio with Arto Tunjboyajyan, in “Aragats” Quartet with Jivan Gasparyan Jr. (duduk), Vardan Babayan (percussion) and Alex Baboyan (guitar). Thus, Armen Hyusnunts makes a significant and highly valued contribution to jazz music with his vast experience and high quality work. His unique merits as a musician, conductor and orchestra director combined with his creative individuality contributes not only to the development of jazz music in Armenia, but also to the innovative appearance of Armenian jazz on the international scene.