Alexander “Shoora” Michailian
In 1990, the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV, asked the musician, Alexander “Shoora” Michailian, to put together a book that provided musical notation for the liturgy of the Assyrian Church of the East. In 1997, Michailian completed this task in a book called Liturgy, Hymns & Songs of the Assyrian Church of the East. Michailian’s book is important, because it will help preserve the sounds of ancient Assyrian liturgy for decades to come.
Michailian was born to Assyrian parents in Kharkiv, Ukraine in 1930. His family presumably fled Urmia to live there during World War I. While still a young boy, Michailian’s parents noticed his interest in music, so began sending him to music lessons. However, in 1938, the family left Ukraine and moved to Hamadan, Iran.
While in Iran, Michailian continued to pursue music, with the violin being his primary instrument. A few years after arriving in Iran, Michailian met the Assyrian musician, William Daniel, and became one of his students. Michailian eventually moved to Abadan, Iran, where he started an Assyrian band called “The Eagle Band.” They performed for those who worked in Abadan’s oil company. In 1966, he also formed the Nabouram Assyrian National Choir at an Assyrian school there called Shoushan Elementary School.
Michailian eventually moved to Tehran, where he worked at its Institute of Arts, and also served as a supervisor of music for the Board of Education in Tehran. In 1971, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi granted Michailian a Royal Award for a choral work that he had composed and performed during the 2,500-year celebration of the Persian Empire. This celebration had been an international event, with many dignitaries from all over the world in attendance.
Michailian moved to the United States in 1980, right after the Iranian Revolution. While in the U.S., he continued to work with Assyrian musicians and reestablished his Nabouram Choir. In 1998, he and his wife, Lily, decided to follow their daughter to Australia, where they still reside today.
By Esther Lang
“Alexander (Shoora) Michailian: A Biography.” Mesopotamian Night. May 11, 2014. http://www.mesopotamian-night.org/2014/05/alexander-shoora-michailian-biography.html (accessed February 26, 2021).
Gewargis, George B. “Alexander (Shoora) Michailian.” 2006.
Moushoulof, Vivian. “Alexander (Shoora) Michailian. Purely Academic 4, no.4 (1999): 8-16.