A renowned Cheltenham-based guitarist, who was regarded as one of the “most innovative performers and composers” of his time has died peacefully at Cheltenham General Hospital.
Mr Gilbert Biberian, 78, passed-away surrounded by his children following complications from a fall on 26th January 2023.
Mr Biberian lived in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, since the late 1980s and held a deep love for the community.
Mr Biberian was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1944. He had Greek, Armenian and Bajan ancestry, which influenced his music and life, and the cosmopolitan nature of Istanbul inspired him to develop a rich cultural life and the desire to connect with people from all parts of the world.
He was exposed to a great deal of variety in Turkey; classical music, folk music, ethnic music, dance music, and was surrounded by a vibrant and diverse culture which he celebrated, and from which he drew inspiration throughout his life.
Mr Biberian graduated from Trinity College of Music, in 1968. During his career he studied with some of the greatest talents of our time, and later returned to Trinity College of Music to become Professor of Guitar. Over the course of his career, he successfully developed his art and established a significant name for himself both at home and internationally as a composer, performer (solo and ensemble), and teacher. Mr Biberian formed the Omega Players which was a group of ten guitars, something quite radical at the time, and still so even now.
The website of the British Music Collection describes Mr Biberian as “one of the most innovative performers and composers working in the field of the guitar today”.
“Keenly aware of the importance of creating a new body of work for the guitar, Gilbert Biberian has stimulated much original composition and along with his own works he has enriched the repertoire of the instrument for all time.
“A strong believer in the immense value of chamber music, he was the first to form a guitar ensemble of professional standing, The Omega Players, in 1969. The music composed for it reflects the considerable diversity of talent in it.
“The Omega Guitar Quartet, formed at the same time, emerged in 1974, with appearances at the Wigmore Hall, in the first English festival of ensembles of guitar, presenting a vast array of new works and arrangements. The Omega Guitar Quartet went on to plough a furrow for the next ten years, pioneering new works and touring many countries.”
“one of the most innovative performers and composers working in the field of the guitar today”.
Over the course of his career, Mr Biberian organised International Guitar Festivals, which were eventually held in Cheltenham, with the final one in 2004, in Charlton Kings. These incredible Festivals combined music, food, Tai Chi and massage, and which are fondly remembered by all those who attended. The festival created a huge buzz in the village.
In recent years, he suffered from strokes which sadly prevented him continuing to play the guitar, however he was still able to both contribute and influence the world of classical music through writing, composing and teaching. He had a formidable spirit and his vibrancy was well loved by all who knew him and he would make friends everywhere he went. His death is a tragic loss to the community.