Mercer Island native composes second symphony with Armenian roots

By Hannah Saunders, For the Reporter

Stephen Lamson grew up on Mercer Island, where if he found himself having a bad day, he would sneak off to grab his dog and go fishing. Throughout his childhood, music played a major role.

“My mom used to play the piano, my sisters used to play the piano, and I used to fall asleep under the piano,” Lamson said.

When he was about six years old, Lamson picked up the drums, which he played until the ninth grade.

“When I was about ten years old, I was sitting at the piano and my mom had just finished playing and I sat at the piano — and I couldn’t play anything — but I looked at the keyboard and I just had this weird feeling that this was what I was supposed to do with my life,” Lamson said.

Lamson recalled his youthful days where he would sneak into churches at night to play piano. When he reached his early twenties, Lamson became more serious about composing while working in the sales and marketing field.

“It’s taken me almost a year of composition on just this composition,” Lamson said.

This past year Lamson finished composing his second symphony, “Ararat’s Shadow,” which is a four movement, 96-minute piece. Lamson has Armenian roots, and the tales of how his grandfather escaped the Armenian Genocide, and Nazi-occupied Germany, is what inspired this symphony.

“I couldn’t believe people could do some of the things you hear,” Lamson said. “I’ve got to do something to honor a part of my heritage and these poor people that suffered so much.”

Through melodies and chording, Lamson tries to educate people. In “Ararat’s Shadow,” he brought up how the third movement is titled ‘The Promise of Forgiveness,” which he describes as a point in which all humans must get to no matter what.

“The last movement is ‘The Awakening,’ and that’s really the celebration of unity and bringing people together and the resurrection of humanity,” Lamson said. “The bringing back of sense and kindness and love and piece.”

Lamson brought up how there were a lot of emotions in the piece. For recording, the piece was so long that it had to be placed on two CDs.

“I composed the piece, the melodies, the whole thing, and then I would get it recorded and then I’d talk with Al and some of these other musicians, so we just carved it out,” Lamson said. “It’s sort of like a spiritual creation by a team of dedicated musicians.”

Lamson calls the group of musicians Eternal Flame, which is a large monument in Armenia with a continuous flame that burns and is dedicated to lives lost during the Armenian Genocide.

Al Cisneros plays electric guitar and bass while also doing editing for the symphony. Jim Malin plays the harmonica. Myles Ricker, 24, plays the violin, viola, and cello. Kurt Madsen plays the classical guitar. Jack Reed, a member of the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, plays percussion instruments to include the timpani and glockenspiel. Jeff Miller plays the trumpet. Denny Hancock plays the trumpet and harmonica. Jennifer Rae Getz is a singer and songwriter who does vocals on the track.

“I’ve written music over the years, but this is my most serious work,” Lamson said. “Part of what we want to do with the money is to go to the Armenian relief fund.”

Stephen said if anyone is interested in picking up a copy of “Ararat’s Shadow,” they can call him at 425-503- 1499 or email him at