The debut of the Musical Armenia Program (MAP), AGBU’s latest initiative geared toward youth and young adults, has proved to be a resounding success, such that plans for its second annual summer are already underway. In MAP’s pilot year, a select group of up and coming artists got the chance to train and perform with renowned musicians in Armenia. Collaborating with top Armenian artists was just one of the many exciting activities that MAP has to offer.
Launched this summer, MAP brought together a group of nine talented young composers, flutists, pianists, vocalists and violinists, from as far away as Greece, Syria, and the United States, in their homeland of Armenia. The program was coordinated from the AGBU Central Office by AGBU Performing Arts Department Artistic Director Hayk Arsenyan. From July 14 to August 4, 2012, the participants, together with Wanes Moubayed, a violinist and the conductor of the AGBU AYA Aleppo Gomidas Chamber Orchestra, and MAP artistic coordinator Levon Eskenian, discovered their musical heritage. Eskenian discussed the program’s many benefits, explaining, “MAP gave participants the chance to gain basic knowledge of every aspect of Armenian music, from ancient Armenian work music, lullabies, ploughing songs, ashoughs music, the Armenian epic, medieval spiritual music, ethnic dance music and songs to classical Armenian music composed by Komitas, Aram Khachaturian and living Armenian composers. For every Armenian musician, this knowledge is as essential as the Armenian language. The enthusiasm and the great interest of the participants inspires us and gives hope of passing the knowledge within diaspora communities, a rare opportunity that diasporan musicians didn’t have until this program.”
MAP students attended lectures and classes with experts in the field, visited local institutions such as the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and Sayat Nova Music School, and toured the country’s historic landmarks. As Arsenyan commented, “MAP is yet another bridge that AGBU has built between Armenian diasporan youth and their homeland. Music is a powerful means to bring individuals closer to their roots, and we proudly watched this year’s MAP participants discover a newfound love for both Armenian music and their country.” Looking back on her experience, participant Alene Aroustamian, of the United States, affirmed Arsenyan’s words, reflecting, “My three weeks with MAP was inspirational, eye-opening, breathtaking, and grounding. It was so encouraging to be with talented, motivated, and bright individuals who are so dedicated to their craft. I hope to have the opportunity to return to Armenia soon and to continue the journey that I started this summer– one Komitas song at a time.”
When they were not in the audience at various concerts, the musicians took the stage themselves. In early August, pianist Shoushy Nakashian and violinist David Melkonian performed in the celebrated “Im Hayasdan” (“My Armenia”) festival of Armenian Performing Arts, which was held under the patronage of the Diaspora Ministry. Melkonian, who is from Aleppo, Syria, described his positive experience with MAP, stating, “I was so pleased to have the opportunity to perform in my homeland and so fortunate to have this invaluable summer experience. I benefitted immensely from my instructors, and loved making new friends from various countries in charming Yerevan. I only wish that the days hadn’t passed so quickly and hope that I will have the chance to meet this fantastic group in Armenia again in the future.” Until then, he and all of this year’s MAP participants will look back on the great memory of performing together at their grand finale concert on August 3, 2012, where they played side by side with the teachers from whom they learned so much.
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.