I like watching conductors in action and I have seen my fair share, but I don't think I've seen a conductor enjoying himself quite so much as George Pehlvanian conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra at London's Royal Festival Hall last week. I was watching from the side slips and had a clear view of Pehlvanian's face which was lit up like a mid-autumn lantern, his eyebrows flying like kites above the ecstatic landscape of his beaming face. He was living the music, and dancing it too, his whole body pulsating in rhythmic gyrations that would not have been out of place at a discotheque. And why not. This concert was, after all, a birthday party and when the composer being feted is Aram Khachaturian, composer of such balletic blockbusters as Spartacus and Gayeneh, then the conductor has every excuse to let rip. The audience too was in high spirits and I was amazed to see that any gap between the music, be it space between movements or a pause between sections of a suite, was filled with rapturous applause. London audiences are usually scrupulously correct about not clapping until the whole piece has ended, but at Khachaturian's centenary celebration the rule was clearly, 'anything goes'. Composing in the USSR during the Soviet era some people make the mistake of thinking Khachaturian was Russian. He was, in fact, Armenian, although he was born in Georgia and died in Moscow. As it is it easy to spot a Scot by the surname prefix 'Mac', so it is easy to identify an Armenian by the 'ian' ending to the family name. And this celebration was chock full of 'ians' from Pehlvanian, an American born in Cyprus, to Sergey Khachatrian the 18-year-old violin soloist and solo cellist Alexander Chaushian, both born in Armenia. The night was, in fact, as much a celebration of Armenian musicianship as of the music of Armenia's greatest composer. Khachaturian, along with Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, remains one of the most popular composers to emerge from the Soviet era. His musical style is clearly marked by his Armenian heritage with its strongly rhythmic drive, lush, exotic melodies and multicoloured orchestration. He is best known for his ballets Gayaneh, and Spartacus. Listening to the concert was a bit like watching a play by Shakespeare in the high frequency of recognition - 'oh, he wrote that.' Most people will recognise the electrifying, Sabre Dance and the Adagio from Spartacus, used as the theme music for the popular TV programme, The Onedin Line. Of course the music of great composers can be played by musicians of any nationality. But there was a marvellous native intimacy to young Sergey Khachaturian's playing of the Violin Concerto in D minor - the raven-haired, serious young man fluently describing with his bow the proud, passionate curve in the Armenian soul. For an encore Pehlivanian lashed us with a scorching Sabre Dance that sent us out onto the South Bank of the River Thames spinning like tops.