Symphony No. 3 "Armenia 2000"
Composed in 1982 in New York, Tjeknavorian’s Third Symphony was commissioned by Minnesota’s Morehead State University on the occasion of the university’s 100th anniversary. The first performance was given by Fargo Morehead Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer in 1984. In 2004 the third movement was revised to include choir and soloists, incorporating a poem by the famous Persian poet Hafez. The idea behind the symphony is Tjeknavorian’s long-cherished hope that by the year 2000 Armenia would be an independent country. Armenia indeed achieved its independence nine years later in 1991. The composer himself played a major role in helping bring this about.
The first movement, Conflict, uses two funeral melodies, Dies Irea and “Priest and the People” (from the Armenian Church). The second movement is dedicated to the memory of the dead, using the famous Armenian folk song “Garun” (Spring), a melody collected by the great Armenian musicologist Komitas. The third movement opens with a fanfare based on an Armenian folk song, followed by a poem by Hafez "Peace in the both world is the interpretation of these two words: Be favorable to your friend and tolerant to your enemy" sung in English, Arabic, Armenian, French, German, Persian, Russian, and Spanish. Fragments from over a dozen national anthems soon appear as symbols of brotherhood and peace and the fanfare theme returns, this time accompanied by strings playing in the locrian mode. The music soon returns to the multi-lingual song, ending with a climax of lush orchestral and choral tutti.
In 1999 the symphony was recorded by the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by composer.
Symphony No. 5
Composed in 1986 in New York, Tjeknavorian’s fifth symphony is a programmatic symphony written for the 1700th celebration of Christianity in Armenia (Armenia became the world's first Christian state in 301 AD). The thematic materials in this symphony come from Armenian sacred and secular music.
The first movement evokes the tragic and joyous pageant of Armenian history. The second movement depicts St. Gregory the Illuminator's prayers during his captivity in a pit by the pagan Armenian king Tiridates III where St. Gregory was imprisoned for 13 years. The melodic materials are from the "repentance chants" of the 5th century. The third movement celebrates the liberation of St. Gregory and the establishment of Christianity in Armenia. The fourth movement is dedicated to the 1700th anniversary of Gregory's conversion of the nation, and is based on Armenian secular and sacred music, ending with a fourth-fifth century song "Ejmiatsin". The first performance was given by the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir in 1998, conducted by the composer.