Yerevan – The Pond of Singing Fountains

Yerevan – The Pond of Singing FountainsIn 1970, Soviet media enthusiastically covered the opening of the first color music fountain complex of USSR in the Republic Square in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Since then, those colorful fountains appear as soon as the city plunges into the darkness in the evening. The “pond with singing fountains”, as the media had called it, presents its viewers with a theatrical-like performance of colorful water lights.

Listening to the music, one always unwittingly tries to guess the behavior of the dancing water jets. This sight is so fascinating that it is quite difficult to look away from the multitude of colors and shapes. After the opening, those color music fountains became one of the main sights of the Armenian capital.

Not many people know that it was a small team that stood behind this spectacle. In 1978, the members of the team Abram Abramyan, Grigori Hakobyan, Alfaros Yeghiyan, Albert Kazhoyan, Yuri Ghazaryan, Robert Mirzoyan, Seryozha Sargsyan, and Sergey Shahazizyan were awarded the State Prize in science and technology of the Armenian SSR.

Everything began in the early 1960s when a group of engineers undertook the development of a new device that would synchronize water jets, light flow, and music. “Thanks to our achievements in technology and particularly in radio electronics, we received the opportunity to create a synthetic art form based on the combination of light and music,” remarked in one of his interviews the author of the project and the head of the research group Abram Abramyan. It should be noted that apart from the achievements in the fields of technology, the genius of the Armenian engineers also greatly contributed to the innovation.

At the time, the color fountains of Yerevan were praised by specialists for the use of new engineering solutions, even though similar devices had been created in France and Japan. The Armenian design was slightly more advanced though: the engineers managed to create a system in which the delay between the beginning of a new chord, the engagement of the water pumps, and the switching of light did not exceed half a second.

This new design allowed Armenian engineers to create the first automatic system controlling the height and shape of the water jets, as well as the brightness and color of the illumination. “My father, Alfaros Yeghiyan, also participated in the creation of the system,” says Ruben Yeghiyan, “If I recall correctly, it was Sergey Shahazizyan who selected the projectors for the system, which allowed the team to achieve a smooth transition between the colors.”

In a short time, the team managed to achieve great preciseness and consistency in the work of the numerous bulky and clumsy mechanisms engaged in the system. Nonetheless, the system based on the newest achievements in engineering and technology truly was innovative. “I recall how the rumors of the miraculous fountains quickly spread across the USSR. Shortly, a flow of numerous orders for the installation of similar systems came to Armenia,” says Robert Mirzoyan, one of the members of the team.

By the way, several years later, the Armenian team contributed to the opening of similar fountains in Batumi, Karaganda, Kryvyi Rih, Moscow, Sochi, and Kharkiv. In 1976, a working model of the Yerevan fountains grabbed the attention of the public in the pavilion of the Armenian SSR at an exhibition in Buenos Ayres. Foreign engineers highly rated this product of the Armenian engineering genius.

Over the following decades, the advancements in technology allowed for the development of more complete and efficient color music fountains. About a decade ago, Armenian engineers realized the need for the upgrade of the already quite obsolete fountain system. Moreover, the fountains mostly hadn’t been working due to the energetic crisis in the country.

The restoration of the fountain system was tasked to the best experts, some of whom had previously renovated the Medici Fountain in Paris. The engineers determined that the appearance of the fountains needs to remain unchanged.

However, the management system of the illumination, pumps, and music was to be upgraded with the latest technology. Now, the fountains are controlled by special software, in which the behavior of the illumination and water jets is programmed for each musical piece separately. The operator controls the fountains via a control panel installed in a bunker beneath the Republic Square, to which the entry of unauthorized personnel is prohibited.

“Even though the operating principle of the modern fountains differs from the original design, it should be acknowledged that the new complex retains its charm and still decorates Yerevan,” says Yuri Ghazaryan, one of the creators of the original system. The Armenian media with great enthusiasm met the second opening of the fountain, which took place on the Independence Day of Armenia on September 21, 2007.

In summer, the people of Yerevan and tourists come to the Republic Square to enjoy the colorful spectacle, just like it has been nearly 50 years ago. Gathered around the pond, they impatiently wait for the fountains to come to life. Playfully launching drops of water onto the public, the fountains soon commence their play with only three main characters: illumination, water, and music.

Natalia Ohanova

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