Loris Ohannes Chobanian
Loris Ohannes Chobanian (born April 17, 1933 to Armenian parents in Mosul, Iraq) is an accomplished Armenian-American composer of classical music, expert conductor, and guitar and lute teacher and performer. A naturalized US citizen, he served as Professor of Composition as well as Composer-in-Residence at Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory.
Dr. Chobanian was introduced to classical music at an early age. His father Ohannes Chobanian, an oil engineer and an amateur musician, was a versatile performer on the piano, the flute and the violin. When he was five years old the senior Chobanian wrote a one man operetta – “O Loris” which the young Chobanian sang in Kirkuk, Iraq, with his father conducting the orchestra.
In 1951 he graduated from Baghdad College, a High School administered by American Jesuits from Boston, Mass. For ten years he joined the Komitas Choir in Baghdad that specialized in singing Armenian Folk Music.
Chobanian studied the classical guitar with Jacque Tchakerian and in 1955 began performing classical guitar regularly on Baghdad Television and worked at the Khanaqin Oil Company. During 1958–1960 he was appointed Secretary to the Director General of Distribution of Oil in Iraq.
Career in the US
In 1960 he moved to the US to study composition at Louisiana State University (1960–1966) where he completed his Bachelors and masters degrees studying with Kenneth Klaus. He performed regularly on WBRZ-TV Baton Rouge, LA, and later in Michigan performing for the National Educational Television. He received the Ph.D. in music composition from Michigan State University (1970) studying with H. Owen Reed.
He was instrumental in establishing the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music Guitar and Composition programs as well as the Focus Contemporary Music Festival. He has taught at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the University of Akron.
In 1973 he became the first Guitar Division Chairman of the American String Teachers Association. He organized the first ASTA Guitar Conference in Cleveland, which for the first time brought together the university and college guitar teachers in the US and Canada. The conference became the model that has been emulated by conferences of the Guitar Foundation of America ever since.
Winner of many ASCAP awards and grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Cleveland Arts Council, he also received an award for excellence from the University of Loyola, New Orleans, LA. He was the recipient of the 1981 Cleveland Arts Prize.
Among his many commissions include those from the Cleveland Ballet, the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto International Guitar Festival, the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Groton Central School in New York, the Nebraska Wesleyan University, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Skidmore College Orchestra, Saratoga Springs, NY, and the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN.
Recent performances of his work
Academic year 2005-2006
- Miniatures for Violoncello and Orchestra was premiered by the BW Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dwight Oltman with Regina Mushabac, cello
- Divertimento was premiered with a Cello Orchestra of forty cellists conducted by the composer
- The Mad Violin for solo violin which was written for and premiered by violinist Julian Ross
- Texturas – Piano Trio No. 2, in five movements, was premiered by the Elysian Trio.
- January 28, 2007 the BW Conservatory Faculty presented an all Chobanian Solo and Chamber Music concert at the Gamble Auditorium of the Conservatory, ending with the composer conducting the World Premiere of Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone and Strings with Greg Banaszak, saxophone, and the BW String Faculty Quintet.
- March 8, 2007, the University of Minnesota presented a festival of Chobanian’s music entitled “CHOBANIANA” in which eight of his compositions were performed.
- Armenian Rhapsody for Guitar and Symphonic Wind Ensemble was commissioned and premiered March 9, 2007 by the University of St. Thomas Symphonic Wind Ensemble, conducted by Matthew George, with Christopher Kachian, guitar solo. The commission stipulated that the work, for Guitar and Symphonic Wind Ensemble, be based upon the Armenian melodic tradition.
- May 2007, the University of St. Thomas ensemble performed Armenian Rhapsody on tour in major cities in China. Chinese audiences received the work enthusiastically. On January 25, 2008, the cello version of Armenian Rhapsody was premiered by Regina Mushabac with the BW Symphonic Wind Ensemble conducted by Dwight Oltman.
- December 1, 2007, the Baldwin-Wallace College Singers, conducted by Mel Unger, presented the world premiere of Requiem - April 24 in Armenian text, to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. The program also featured Chobanian’s Kaddish for a young Artist, in Aramaic, to commemorate the Jewish Holocaust. The BW Singers learned the Armenian text phonetically.
- Tango Fantasy was premiered on March 5, 2008 by the BW Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dwight Oltman with BW Alumna flamenco/classical guitarist Marija Temo
- September 13, 2008 Dialogue – Sonata for Two Pianos was premiered by Nicole Keller and William Shaffer, pianos.
- Music for Lauren, a collection of ten Piano Solos was premiered by Robert Mayerovitch, piano, September 20, 2008.
- December 14, 2008 Dowland In Armenia for String Orchestra was premiered by the BW Youth Orchestra conducted by the composer.
- February 27, 2009, the BW Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dwight Oltman, presented the US Premiere of Legends for String Orchestra. Capriccio for Violin and Symphonic Wind Ensemble was also premiered by Julian Ross, violin, the BW Symphonic Wind ensemble conducted by Dwight Oltman.