Loris Tjeknavorian has led a truly cosmopolitan career, both as a conductor and composer. Having lived in Iran, the United States (Michigan and Minnesota), Britain, Austria, Armenia, and having led orchestras in those countries, as well as in Israel, Japan and the former Soviet Union, he has absorbed a range of ethnic and cultural influences. This colorful background shows up in his music: his church compositions show Armenian and Eastern Orthodox influences, while his stage and orchestral works divulge Iranian, Persian, and Armenian flavors. Tjeknavorian (pronounced 'Cheknavorian' or 'Cheknavarian') has made more than 60 recordings as a conductor and has composed over 70 compositions. His works have been given premieres in London, Teheran, New York, Johannesburg, and other major cultural centers. He has recorded for several labels, including RCA, ASV, Philips, and EMI.
Tjeknavorian was born in Burujird, Lorestan Province, Iran. He was a child prodigy, composing music by age 10. His first serious music studies took place in Teheran during his childhood and early teens. He graduated with honors from the Vienna Music Academy, where he studied composition and violin from 1954-1961. After teaching music theory at the Teheran Conservatory from 1961-1963, Tjeknavorian took further instruction in composition at the Salzburg Mozarteum under Carl Orff in 1963-1964. It was during this period that Tjeknavorian completed the first version of his opera Rostam and Sohrab, a work that in its final version would be premiered in Iran in 2000 with great success.
Tjeknavorian studied conducting in 1965 at the University of Michigan, after which he joined the faculty at Moorhead University, chairing the instrumental and opera departments. In 1970 he returned to Iran as composer-in-residence and principal conductor of Teheran's Rudaki Opera House. Tjeknavorian relocated to England in 1975, where he signed a recording contract with RCA. Over the next decade or so he turned out a number of successful recordings with London's leading orchestras (LSO, LPO, and RPO).
After a brief residency in New York (1986-1988), Tjeknavorian accepted the appointment of principal conductor and artistic director of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra in 1989. He left this post in 2000 to focus on composition and freelance as a conductor. In the early years of the new century Tjeknavorian remained active as a composer and conductor, leading many concerts in Teheran and Yerevan, as well as in Los Angeles, Beirut, and Vienna.