Performers: New England Symphony Orchestra

Rouben Gregorian, conductor









Sinfonia for Strings



for those who must journey into eternity

by James Forte


First Movement: Largo; Andante

Second Movement: Adagio

Third Movement: Adagio; Andante con moto


Premier Performance

Boston, Massachusetts

November 17, 1981

New England Symphony Orchestra*

Rouben Gregorian, Conductor




                 *This historic recording was both the premier of the complete Sinfonia for Strings by James Forte, and the first public concert of a new orchestra designed to be a musical vehicle of Rouben Gregorian. This orchestra was then named the New England Symphony Orchestra, a name it subsequently signed over to another organization and the corporation continued with its present name, the New Arts Symphony Orchestra.


The Orchestra

(from the original 1981 Program Notes)

                 “THE NEW ENGLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is a brand new, independent professional orchestra which is dedicated to the highest ideals of the art of music. This performance by members of the string section is its first public appearance and is a preview of things to come when the full orchestra performs. Diversity of programming and working with conductors and soloists of international experience will characterize the orchestra’s performances.”


The Premier

                 The premier performance of the entire symphony was made by the new orchestra with just 15 pieces on the floor. The music is designed for a full symphony orchestra string section. It was subsequently performed with the full complement of strings which yielded a lush, rich sonority and many effects that were not as achievable with the chamber-sized group. The first movement had been performed earlier.


The Music

                 Mr. Forte’s music showed, even in this early work, a rich melodic style with a new rich harmony. He has continued in this vein throughout his compositional career.


                 This symphony, subtitled for those who must journey into eternity (a journey we must all take), includes one other statement in the score, towards the end of the last movement: “What does it matter if my hair turns gray, I still love.”


The Conductor

Rouben Gregorian (1915-1991)

A Tribute by James Forte


This composer is very proud that it was Rouben Gregorian who was the first internationally known artist to champion his music. The composer holds Maestro Gregorian in highest esteem, with the greatest affection. The conductor commissioned and premiered The Holy Child for chorus, soloists and orchestra, premiered Homeland for chorus, soloists and orchestra, and premiered the Sinfonia for Strings which he also took overseas.


                 Maestro Gregorian was born in 1915 in Tifliz, Russia to musical parents. His father was a violinist and choral director and his mother was a pianist. He studied at the Armenian Central College in Tabriz, Iran; the Teheran Conservatory; the École de Musique in Paris; and the National Conservatory of Music in Paris. He became the Director of the Teheran Conservatory and the Music Director of the Teheran Symphony in the 1940’s and headed the Iranian National Commission of UNESCO from 1949 to 1951. In 1952 he brought his family to Boston where he assumed the role of Director of the Boston Conservatory Orchestra and Chorus.





Sinfonia for Strings

for those who must journey into eternity

by James Forte


Historic Recording, November 17, 1981, SINFONIA for STRINGS by James Forte, Wildflower Recordings WFR0215CD, New England Symphony Orchestra, Rouben Gregorian, conductor, in celebration of the Armenian Cultural Foundation’s Commemoration of Rouben Gregorian’s 90th birth anniversary


From the welcoming applause to the closing applause, Sinfonia for Strings offers a rich melodic style that combines harmonies with deep emotion and Spirit with creativity. It should be no surprise that this milestone work was written by my friend, noted composer and poet, James Forte.


Sinfonia for Strings was first played in its entirety in 1981 by the New England Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Rouben Gregorian. This CD of that historic concert brings his superb, gripping, and memorable performance to today’s audiences. It was Maestro Gregorian who sent word to a young composer named James Forte. He wanted to commission a work for chorus and orchestra for the opening of one of the sky scrapers in Boston for which he was supplying the music. That turned out to be a relationship that lasted until Mr. Gregorian’s death in 1991.


Sinfonia for Strings contains three movements, each building on the others, to offer the listener an amazing vehicle that caused this reviewer to smile, weep, and feel. More than that, Sinfonia for Strings is appropriately subtitled "for those who must journey into eternity." It is the journey we must all make. It is the journey heard in this master work.

Some composers offer tunes while others offer melodies. Only a very few, in this reviewer’s opinion, offer aural experiences that can affect one’s being---that champion life and soul and heart. Such is Sinfonia for Strings by James Forte. Metaphysical Reviews, Richard Fuller, Senior Editor




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