Around 80 years ago, Ras Teferi visited an Armenian Monastery in Jerusalem and met 40 orphans who had escaped the genocidal atrocities they were subjected to in Turkey. Ras Tefari, who had a magnificent knack for art, obtained permission from the Armenian Patriarch to bring them all to Ethiopia. Then the “Arba Lijoch” (The 40 Orphans) became the Nation’s first official orchestra under Kevork Nalbandian who was Narses Nalbandian’s uncle.

Nerses Nalbandian was Musical Director of the National Theater in Addis Ababa at the time where he laid a strong foundation in contemporary Ethiopian music. It was the beautiful and soulful melodies he composed that gave birth to the golden years of Ethiopian music. Narses Nalbandian composed the greatest contemporary melodies of Ethiopia. Songs by Alemayehu Eshete, Bahta Gebrehiwot and Lemma Demissew, are some fine examples. The very famous, Organisation for African Unity (OAU) theme song, was also composed by the great Nerses Nalbandian; “Africa, Africa, Africa hagerachen…”

Selam Mussie

EBR staff writter

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