From February 6 - 15, 2007, the 120-member Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra (APO) toured seven French cities (Nice, Vendee, Saint-Etienne, Lyon, Valence, Marseille, and Paris) to entertain thousands of music lovers as part of the "Year of Armenia" festival of Armenian culture taking place in France this year.
Entitled "Armenie mon Amie" (Armenia my friend), the yearlong showcase of Armenian culture was established by France to honor the special relationship between the two countries while creating bridges between the peoples of both nations.
Sponsored by AGBU and with the involvement of the organization's many French chapters, the nine-day APO tour provided one of the highlights of the "Year of Armenia" in France, by showcasing the high level of achievement in Armenia's cultural institutions.
The APO concerts were attended by a variety of French political figures and cultural personalities. On stage, the APO and its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Eduard Topchjan, were joined by a number of leading European Armenian musicians whose presence highlighted the wide breadth of achievement among Armenians across Europe. Twenty-two-year-old virtuoso violinist Sergey Khatchatryan accompanied the APO in its sold-out concert for 1,200 in St. Etienne, pianist Vahan Mardirossian joined the APO for major performances in Lyon and Marseilles, and renowned pianist Vardan Mamigonian joined the orchestra for its Valence concert that attracted over 1,000 music lovers.
Along with songs by Armenian composers, Alexander Spendiarian and Aram Khatchaturian, renowned pieces by Jean Sibelius and Sergei Rachmaninov completed the APO program during its French tour.
In each city they visited, members of the APO took time out of their busy schedules to familiarize themselves with the local French Armenian community, and visit local AGBU chapters, to promote greater awareness of the orchestra.
The French media covered the tour extensively as part of the "Year of Armenia" events. For more information on the APOï¿½s role in the festivities, visit: www.armenie-mon-amie.com/Tournee-en-France-de-l-Orchestre.
Established in 1924, the APO has been primarily subsidized by AGBU since 1992 in recognition of the importance of the performing arts in Armenia. Annual grants are allocated for weekly concerts, new instruments, administration, salary supplements, international guest artists and special festivals. APO has successfully toured Austria, England, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Lebanon, Russia, Turkey, UAE and the United States, and has produced dozens of CD recordings. For more information on APO, please visit www.apo.am.