Sold Out Performance at Carnegie Hall Pays Tribute to Legendary Bard Sayat Nova
World premieres and a wide range of classical pieces, all inspired by the celebrated Armenian bard Sayat Nova, made the fifth annual AGBU Performing Artists in Concert an unforgettable evening. Presented by the AGBU New York Special Events Committee (NYSEC), the sold-out event drew crowds of more than 260 to Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on Saturday, December 1, 2012, to honor the 300th anniversary of the birth of Sayat Nova. Showcasing the talents of AGBU scholarship recipients from around the globe, the concert raised over $50,000, which will enable AGBU to continue to support many more bright young musicians and musical initiatives.
Throughout the evening, the AGBU artists proved that the legendary Sayat Nova’s influence has not only endured, but has also laid the foundation for a new genre: one that layers traditional Armenian and modern Western elements. Centuries after his time, the musician, poet, singer and master of languages, who produced hundreds of Armenian ballads, continues to shape Armenian music. As the concert’s co-artistic director Sofya Melikyan commented, “One of the greatest pleasures of being a musician is the opportunity to travel back in time and give new life to music. It was an honor to collaborate with all the incredible AGBU artists to commemorate Sayat Nova’s birth and a delight to witness the ways he continues to motivate the next generation of Armenian composers.”
The program opened with the premiere of Ashkharums Akh Chim Kashil (I Would Not Sigh in this World), arranged by Artur Akshelyan, the first place winner of the 2006 AGBU Sayat Nova International Composition Competition. The special performance, which featured the marimba, was one of four world premieres that marked the event; a second piece by Akshelyan, The Universe in a Nutshell, as well as two works by composer Vahram Sargsyan, an arrangement of Sayat Nova’s Usti Kugas (Where Do You Come From?) and Hunting the Hunter, all drew repeated rounds of applause from the audience. In the second half of the concert, the piece Poem by AGBU Performing Arts Department Artistic Director Hayk Arsenyan made its New York debut, adding to the evening’s distinctive ensemble, which was at some points energetic and lively, at others dramatic and somber – yet inspiring throughout.
Under the direction of Hayk Arsenyan and Sofya Melikyan, the ten artists paid tribute not only to Sayat Nova, but to many contemporary classical composers, as well. The renowned Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian, who passed away this year, was honored with a performance of his critically acclaimed Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, which is rarely heard in concert. Compositions by Antonín Dvořák, Tigran Mansurian, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Robert Schumann, were among the other memorable works performed by the AGBU musicians, some of whom are based locally, and others who traveled from as far as Austria, Belgium and Canada to share the stage in New York. The participants, pianist Hayk Arsenyan, mezzo soprano Garineh Avakian, violinists Tatevik Ayazyan and Armine Chamasyan, pianist Tanya Gabrielian, cellist Vardan Gasparyan, marimbist Tatevik Khoja-Eynatyan, pianist Sofya Melikyan, violist Anoush Simonian and clarinetist Gurgen Simonyan, have trained and performed in some of the world’s finest institutions and venues – the Conservatory of Geneva, the Julliard School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, the Vienna Conservatory and Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, among others.
As both established artists and rising stars, the NYSEC concert participants represent the greatest talents of their generation, each of whom have benefitted from the AGBU Performing Arts Fellowship Program, which is administered by the AGBU Scholarship Program. AGBU Performing Artists in Concert Co-Chair Sossy Setrakian stressed the organization’s commitment to young musicians, stating, “The annual AGBU NYSEC concert at Carnegie Hall supports our talented artists in their quest for recognition and professional distinction. I was impressed by the diversity and complexity of the musical repertoire and the extraordinary talent of the performers. I hope AGBU NYSEC, with the support of all those who love great music, will continue promoting Armenian talent and fostering in our youth the desire to excel and ascend to the world’s great stages – thereby advancing the cause of Armenian tradition and culture.”
Scholarship recipient Tatevik Khoja-Eynatyan, who has performed at the White House and recorded two award-winning albums, attested to AGBU’s great impact, commenting, “This fellowship gave me the key to my professional development, and I love sharing my passion for music through both performances and teaching. I’m deeply thankful that I am able to do so because of AGBU’s support.”
Over the past four years, the annual AGBU NYSEC concert have provided significant support to gifted young Armenian performers, as well as AGBU musical programs and events. Proceeds from the 2012 NYSEC event, which included pre-concert fundraising efforts, will continue to support AGBU student grants and projects worldwide. Since the AGBU NYSEC event’s inception, it has benefitted from the continuous support of concert benefactor Paul Khoury.
The fifth annual AGBU Performing Artists in Concert was organized by the NYSEC Committee, co-chaired by Nila Festekjian and Sossy Setrakian. Members include Anita Anserian, Carol Aslanian, Betty Cherkezian, Melissa Demirjian, Maral Hajjar, Hilda Hartounian, Maral Jebejian, Vesna Markarian and Vera Setrakian. AGBU Performing Artists in Concert Contributors include AGBU Performing Arts Department Artistic Director Hayk Arsenyan, graphic designer Alex Basmagian, events coordinator Sharis Boghossian, AGBU Associate Director of Education Natalie Gabrelian and concert coordinator Leslie Aslanian Williams.
On December 13, 2012, AGBU France will continue to celebrate the tercentenary of Sayat Nova’s birth with a special concert organized under the auspices of the Armenian Embassy in Paris, in association with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The event will feature the winners of the 2012 AGBU Sayat Nova International Composition Competition and take place at the premiere Parisian venue Salle Cortot. For more information, please visit: http://agbueurope.org/culture/concours-sayat-nova2012/.
For decades, AGBU scholarships have been awarded to qualified, talented students of Armenian descent studying in the performing arts who have demonstrated excellence in their chosen fields. These awards enable recipients to reach their potential, laying the foundation for their future, as they celebrate their heritage and identity. Those who would like to make a contribution to the AGBU Performing Arts Fellowship Program to help sustain and support the enhancement of future Armenian musicians may contact AGBU by phone (212) 319-6383 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 500,000 Armenians around the world.
For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please visit www.agbu.org