Vahram Sarkissian (Sargsyan) is an Armenian Canadian composer, conductor and
experimental vocalist living in Montreal, Canada. His chamber, choral and vocal
works have been widely performed across Europe, Asia, and North America. His
style represents a multicultural “palette” of sounds and creative ideas
influenced by numerous traditions and practices spanning from V century Armenian
medieval chants to previously unreported endogenous vocal extended techniques.
As an experimental vocalist, he developed a distinct vocal identity with a rich
assortment of techniques and several signature sound production methods.
Vahram Sarkissian studied Music Theory at the Yerevan P. Tchaikovsky Musical
College. He obtained his graduate diplomas in composition with Ashot Zohrabyan
and conducting with Tigran Hekekyan at the Komitas State Conservatory in
Yerevan, where he also earned a postgraduate diploma in composition. He
continued his education at Schulich School of Music, McGill University studying
composition with Philippe Leroux.
Sarkissian's compositions have been performed in numerous festivals and concerts
in Japan, Canada, USA as well as across almost the entire European continent.
Performers of his music include BBC Singers (UK), Little Singers of Armenia,
Ensemble Transmission (Canada), Armenian State Chamber Choir, Lark Choir (USA),
Yerevan Chamber Choir, Est vocal ensemble (Japan), Meitar Ensemble (Israel),
Junges Ensemble Dresden (Germany), Boston Choral Ensemble (USA), Alan Hovhaness
String Orchestra (Armenia), Ensemble Oktoplus (Germany) and many others. His
arrangement of a 5th-century Armenian chant Great Mystery is included in the
Oxford University Press anthology World Carols for Choirs and has been recorded
by BBC Singers. Sarkissian's work Hunting the Hunter was premiered under his own
baton in 2012 at Carnegie Hall.
Commissioners of Sarkissian's music is Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Germany), CBC
Radio (Canada), Lark Musical Society, Boston Choral Ensemble (USA), AGBU
Foundation (USA), Oxford University Press (UK) The Esoterics Choir (USA), just
to mention a few.
As a performer Sarkissian has appeared in different festivals and concerts in
Montréal, Barcelona, New York, Yerevan, London, Seattle, Los Angeles and
elsewhere. He frequently gives lectures and leads workshops about extended vocal
techniques and vocal improvisation. Most recently he lectured at the World
Symposium on Choral Music (Barcelona, 2017), ACDA East Conference (Pittsburgh,
2018), Europa Cantat Festival (Tallinn, 2018) and elsewhere. He is a founding
member of Phth – a 7 part experimental vocal ensemble that premieres and
advocates new music by Canadian composers as well as introduces other
contemporary compositions to the Canadian audience.
Sarkissian’s honors include the winner award in the Third BCE Commission
Competition (Boston, USA 2010 for Tribulationes), the winner award in the
POLYPHONOS 2017 Commission Competition (Seattle, USA 2016) 1st prize in the
International Contest for New Choral Compositions (Petrinja, Croatia 2009 for
Anegh Bnutiun); the third prize in the Godfrey Ridout Awards from the Socan
Foundation (Canada 2012, for Tribulationes); an award from the World Armenian
Congress "for his creative achievements" (Yerevan, Armenia 2009, for Mythis); an
award at the European Seminar for Young Composers (Aosta, Italy 2008, for
Laudate Dominum); an award in Choral Composition Competition (Yerevan, Armenia
2006, for Tantum ergo); Graduate Excellence Fellowship from McGill University
(Canada, 2013); AGBU Performing Arts Fellowship (USA, 2012) and Calouste
Gulbenkian Higher Education Fellowship (Armenia, 2006).
Vahram Sarkissian is a member of the Composers Union of Armenia and The Canadian
League of Composers. He served as a music consultant for the European Choral
He is also active as a conductor. He was the founder and conductor of Armenian
Chamber Voices: a 16-member mixed vocal ensemble noticeably consisting of young
composers and musicologists, which was advocating music of the XX century in
Armenia. He has also organized and occasionally led several vocals and
instrumental ensembles in Armenia, Canada, and the USA.