June 9, 2011 - 13:09 AMT
Composer Vartan Melkonian to perform his symphony in London

A composer from Chorleywood, who busked his way from an orphanage in Lebanon to the stages in the West End of London, will perform his latest symphony for the Queen next week.

Vartan Melkonian, who was left to roam the streets of Lebanon after the Armenian Genocide, will conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the GCC Polo Cup on June 16, Watford Observer reported.

This year, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the competition, a special concert has been arranged the day after the polo match, on June 16, in Westminster Central Hall. The theme is “Our Water, Our Life”, and is dedicated to the environment, specifically to the preservation of water in developing countries.

Mr Melkonian, from Chenies Village, said: “I will be conducting the whole evening, from Mozart's 40th and Beethoven's 6th, to my symphony about water. My symphony took four months from start to finish… I hope the audience will experience something they have not before.”

Mr Melkonian is originally from Armenia, which has a strong tie with western culture as it was the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion, the article in Watford Observer reads. Between 1915 and 1917, years before the Jewish Holocaust, more than a million Armenians were killed or deported by the Ottoman Empire in one of the first ever genocides, it reads.

“My parents were taken to Lebanon, where I was born, and I was sent to the Birds' Nest orphanage in Byblos, north of Beirut, which was founded by Danish missionaries.”

After his mother's death Mr Melkonian became one of the 4,000 children cared for in the orphanage, of which 36 are still alive today. He thinks his is 60-years-old. He added: “I don't know my birthday because I have no birth certificate. I can only guess that it is the same time of year as the saint I was named after.

Fleeing the Lebanese civil war in 1972, Mr Melkonian came to England and began touring clubs, before being scouted and performing in the West End. He has worked with the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the London Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras, as well as others in Europe.”

Today Mr Melkonian raises money for the orphanage through his charity The Melkonian Foundation.