• Local artists discuss new collaborations at the inaugural AGBU Performing Arts Department Salon Night in New York, the first of a series of networking events designed especially for musicians and vocalists.

  • An international ensemble performs the winning pieces from the AGBU Sayat Nova International Composition Competition at a concert organized by AGBU France in Paris’s prestigious Salle Cortot.

  • AGBU Performing Arts Scholarship Fellowship recipients play world premiere pieces written by Vahram Sargsyan (conducting) at the AGBU NYSEC Performing Artists in Concert. Photo by Stewart Isbell.

February 27, 2013 | Press Releases

New AGBU Performing Arts Department Off to an Exciting Start

Department’s Competitions, Concerts and Cultural Events Draw International Attention

This past year, AGBU unveiled officially its new Performing Arts Department (PAD), and has since expanded its reach broadly to support rising talents – and it has plenty more in store in the months to come.

A central part of PAD’s mission is to connect young Armenian artists with their musical heritage, and in 2012 AGBU initiated its Musical Armenia Program, which PAD will continue to administer with AGBU Yerevan this summer. In its pilot year, Musical Armenia brought diasporan youth from Greece, Syria and the United States to their homeland to train with experts in the field, and, after an intense three weeks of master classes and excursions, the students participated in a final gala concert in Yerevan’s Aram Khachaturian Museum Hall. Applications for the 2013 Musical Armenia Program are now being accepted, giving scores more emerging musicians ages 18 and older the opportunity to learn and perform alongside professional mentors this summer.

While Musical Armenia participants were discovering the classics in Yerevan, composers around the world were writing their own original pieces, hoping to land a prize in the AGBU France 2012 Sayat Nova International Composition Competition, which was initiated by the AGBU France District. The first competition was organized in 2006 by the District in Paris during one of AGBU’s Centennial celebrations, and this past year’s concert showcased more new talents while honoring the 300th anniversary of the legendary Armenian bard. The chance to win up to 2,500€ and gain international exposure drew applicants from 18 countries, and proved that a new genre of music is on the horizon – one that is inspired by traditional Armenian sounds and has a modern, global twist.

Winners from each Sayat Nova International Composition Competition, along with AGBU scholarship recipients, got their moment in the spotlight at two back-to-back concert events this December, which drew a combined well over 750 music enthusiasts. The first, presented by the AGBU New York Special Events Committee (NYSEC) in Carnegie Hall and the second, organized by AGBU France at Paris’s prestigious Salle Cortot, included the world premieres of several works. Generous donations from the NYSEC concert will continue to support AGBU musical programs and events, as well as gifted young Armenian performers.

PAD’s Artistic Director Hayk Arsenyan is himself a former AGBU Performing Arts Scholarship recipient who, with AGBU’s support, was able to pursue a career as an internationally acclaimed concert pianist and composer, as well as a member of the French Union of Composers in Paris and a faculty member at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Arsenyan remarked on PAD’s goals to both connect Armenian artists worldwide and introduce Armenian art to diverse audiences, stating, “As a Yerevan native who has worked in France, Russia and the United States, I have met artists who were eager to learn and play Armenian music, though it was largely absent from their classrooms and concert halls. With PAD, we are changing that by creating more educational opportunities and performances, while supporting emerging and established Armenian artists. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help establish PAD and look forward to watching our initiatives unfold.”

Those initiatives include a series of international events that will bring music lovers and performers together. Plans are already underway for next year’s annual NYSEC concert, and in the meantime the AGBU Artists project, which is sponsored by AGBU France and supported by PAD, will introduce new talents to local communities in Europe. In New York, PAD’s Salon Night, which is being organized every few months at the AGBU Central Office, is giving local artists the opportunity to network and forge collaborations. At the kickoff event this winter, guests enjoyed a screening of Sergey Parajanov’s classic film “The Color of Pomegranates,” based on Sayat Nova’s life, celebrating the man whose legacy has endured through centuries and inspired them to make the Armenian music of tomorrow.

To learn more about the new AGBU Performing Arts Department and upcoming events, email performingarts@agbu.org. To learn more about the AGBU Musical Armenia Program and submit an application today, visit: www.agbu.org/musicalarmenia.

The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the Armenian diaspora. Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians.

To learn more visit www.agbu.org.

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