PERSPECTIVES ENSEMBLE PRESENTS
ARMENIAN VILLAGE AND CLASSICAL MUSIC
AND SHARAGANS (HYMNS)
A CONCERT IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
SATURDAY, APRIL 25, 2015 AT 7PM
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
St. James Chapel
1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York City
Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian
Sato Moughalian, flute and Artistic Director
Guest artist: Alyssa Reit, harp
We gather together this evening to reflect upon and mourn the nearly one and a half million Armenian lives extinguished in the violent final convulsions of the Ottoman Empire between the years 1915 and 1923—a traumatic series of deportations from ancestral homelands and massacres, known collectively as the Armenian Genocide. Many Greek and Assyrian Christians died as well. Survivors dispersed throughout Europe, Africa, North and South America, and Asia. They carried with them their memories and their songs, precious legacies of an unbreakable culture, passed down from one generation to the next: evocations of village life and nature in the mountains and fields of the Anatolian plain; the passing of seasons; composed pieces and liturgical hymns by revered Armenian composers; and countless expressions of love—the highest value of all. This music offers a window through which we can glimpse the daily lives of our forebears; their storytelling, sense of humor, artisanship, rituals, and their Christian devotion. With music, we weave ourselves in among the long threads that connect our lives with theirs. In music, we remember.
Al Ayloughs – The Red Kerchief
Folk song, Komitas (1869-1935)/arr. Alyssa Reit after Sergei Aslamazian
Lachin u Manan – Lachin, Lachin and Her Spinning Wheel
Folk song from Basen
A young woman named Lachin sits at the spinning wheel combing wool when she hears a knock at the door. It is her suitor and he tells her “Tell your mother to open the door but quietly, so that no one will hear! Lachin gives birth to twins. The same man arrives empty handed, as he has, en route to her house, eaten the two rolls of bread he meant as gifts!
Maratuk – The Mountains of Maratuk
Folk song from Sasun
The melting snows upon the mountain of Maratuk inspire a man to pursue his sweetheart. He mounts his horse, fixes his mustache, and rushes to find her. She wears the traditional colors of the “narod,” the regal wedding ribbons woven with gold that symbolize life and vitality, and is as beautiful as a flower. She is “khorodig” (adorable) and one of a kind.
Habrban – Festive Song
Folk song, Komitas/arr. Reit after Aslamazian
Arentz kez inch ganim? – What could I have done without you?
Sayat-Nova (1712-95)/arr. Reit
Lili Folk song from Sasun
A man climbs his love’s roof to glimpse her in slumber. Come morning he wakes the village girls with his song of love but the one he seeks to summon remains hidden. With half a heart, he makes his way to a wedding, to sing of his woes.
Ororotsayin (Ari Im Sokhag) – Lullaby (Come Hither Nightingale)
Words by Kamar Katiba/Melody by Alexander Spendiarian (1871-1928)
A mother tries to lull her crying son to sleep. She calls to various birds, asking them to leave field, garden, and nest to sing a sweet song that will quiet her child. After calling each bird, the mother exclaims, “But he cries. Do not come. My son does not want to be a recluse – a cleric.” She finally calls upon the brave hawk, and her son falls to sleep to the bird’s songs of resistance.
Miayn Kez – Only You*
Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939)/arr. Reit
Hov Arek – Give Shade, Dear Mountains
Folk song, Komitas/arr. Reit
Ohrnutiun Bahot – Lenten Blessing
Sharagan – Armenian Liturgical Hymn
Many are Your acts of compassion. Have mercy, God, purger of my sins. By the treachery of the evil one I have sinned against You. Have mercy, God, purger of my sins. At Your second coming, when You come to pass judgment on the earth… have mercy, God, purger of my sins.
Groong – The Crane
Song of the exile: Crane, your voice is my own. I have left my fruits and vineyards. My migrant soul is yours crane, as your voice is my own. Have you no message from our world?
Ur Es Mayr Im – Where Are You My Mother?
Sharagan—Armenian Liturgical Hymn
The lament of Christ during his crucifixion: Where are you my sweet, tender mother? The need for motherly love leaves me burning. My eyes burn with bitter tears. I have no one to wipe them. I asked for a drink of water. The wicked gave me vinegar instead. Where are you, my mother? Come and calm my thirst with your sweet milk.
Garun a – It Is Spring
Folk song, Komitas/arr. Reit
Spring has arrived, and snow has fallen.
Shogher Jan – Dear Shogher
Snow appears beneath the clouds. Shogher hasn’t returned from the mountains. She sways and lilts as she walks. My heart is is burning and I cannot sleep. Come down from the mountains, Shogher, and bring water from the melted snows to calm the fever of my love.
Kele-Kele — Walk, Walk
Folk song, Komitas/arr. Reit
Gakavik – The Partridge
Folk song, Komitas/arr. Reit
Mogats Harsner – The Brides of Moks
Folk song from Van
The villagers of Moks await the arrival of their brides. Their hair, woven with gold thread, cascades like ocean waves. Their dark eyes and their faces are as bright as the mountains and moon. Come out, men of Moks, come out and meet your brides who bring fire and love. The village of Moks will rise again.
Tsolak Jan – Dear Tsolak
This song recounts a conversation between a girl named Tsoghik and her sweetheart, named Tsolak. The bird flew out from beneath the clouds. Tsolak and Tsoghig, are happy together. Tsoghik sings of farming, the cloth of Tsolak’s dress and the love in his heart. She sings of her hair blowing in the wind, the roses on her dress and the golden ring that will grace her finger when he who loves her takes her away.
Shushiki Folk dance, Komitas/arr. Reit after Aslamazian
Chinar Es – The Plane Tree
You are like a poplar (plane) tree. Don’t bend your head. Ah! My love, don’t stay away from our door. Don’t forget me, even though you are far away.
Tamzara Folk song from Palu, Dikranagert/arr. Zulal/Inna Dudukina/Reit
All the works performed by Zulal are their own original arrangements.
Oror is the Armenian word for lullaby. This program is lovingly dedicated to all those who have “fallen asleep.”
Notes on the Composers
Komitas Vartabed (1869-1935) was the religious name (Vartabed is an Armenian honorific for a celibate priest) of the man born Soghomon Soghomonian in Kutahya, Anatolia (now Turkey), the seat of the famous Ottoman ceramic tradition. Komitas (also spelled Gomidas) was a composer and musicologist who received his training at the Humboldt University in Berlin after his 1895 ordination in Etchmiadzin, Armenia’s religious center. In the early years of his career, he traveled widely, notating, collecting, and analyzing Armenian as well as Kurdish folk pieces. Over 1200 of his transcriptions survive, in some cases providing the few cultural remnants that have passed down to us from isolated Armenian communities within the Ottoman Empire. He is one of the best known Armenian classical composers and set the entire liturgy, a version that survives and is commonly used today. Between 1910 and 1915, Komitas trained a series of concert choirs within the Ottoman Empire and in Europe. Before his time, liturgical music was not performed outside the ecclesiastical setting, but his widely lauded choral performances brought Armenian music, both secular and sacred, to many new audiences in Europe and Asia.
Komitas was in the group of approximately 250 Armenian intellectual leaders arrested and deported from Constantinople on April 24, 1915. Although he was one of the few survivors, he suffered enormously from the trauma of his arrest and imprisonment and withdrew afterwards from public life, spending his remaining years institutionalized in Paris, most likely in a condition we would today call severe “post-traumatic stress syndrome.” However, the supremely important work he did to preserve and create a distinct corpus of sacred and secular Armenian music lives on. For more information: www.komitas.am
In the 1960s, Sergei Aslamazian, the founding cellist of the Komitas String Quartet, a Yerevan, Armenia based ensemble that continues to perform today, transcribed a number of the folk tunes collected by Komitas. Some of tonight’s instrumental works derive from Aslamazian’s arrangements.
Sayat-Nova (1712-95), born Harutyan Sayatyan, was an Armenian ashough, or poet-musician who was born in Tiflis (today’s Tblisi) and incorporated multiple languages—Armenian, Persian, Georgian, Azeri—into his prolific and evocatively romantic writings. He served as a composer, poet, and kamancha (a long-necked bowed string instrument with a bulbous body) player at the court of the Georgian King Irakle II. Sayat-Nova was ordained as an Armenian Orthodox priest in 1759. In 1795, while living as a religious at Haghpatavank Monastery in Armenia, he was martyred during an attack by forces under the command of the Iranian shah Mohammed Khan Qajar. Further reading: Sayat-Nova: An 18th Century Troubadour by Charles Dowsett.
Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939) was born into a musical family, and like Komitas, he was a composer as well as a musicologist who also traveled widely collecting folk songs, beginning around his native region of Shushik. In 1895, he moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he continued his studies for six more years, ultimately studying with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Suni composed prolifically, writing polyphonic and contrapuntal choral settings of Armenian folk music, songs, orchestral works, operettas, and marches. He had strong egalitarian political beliefs and also composed a large number of workers’ songs. Suni emigrated to the United States and became a naturalized citizen in 1923. Suni’s grandson is the renowned Armenian historian Ronald Grigor Suny. See: www.suniproject.org, where a number of his works are freely available to download.
In Armenian, Zulal means “clear water.” Zulal, the a cappella trio, takes Armenia’s village folk melodies and weaves intricate arrangements that pay tribute to the rural roots of the music while introducing a sophisticated lyricism and energy. Zulal’s singers, Teni Apelian, Yeraz Markarian and Anaïs Tekerian have been singing together since 2002. The trio has performed in such esteemed venues as the Getty Museum, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and New York’s Symphony Space, along with performances for Cirque du Soleil and the Silk Road Project. Zulal has scored the film Stone Touch Time and has two critically acclaimed albums to its credit. The trio celebrates the trials and joys of old Armenian village life: Budding romances in elevated gardens, the disappointments of hapless suitors, secret messages placed upon the western winds, the moonlit faces of shepherd boys and their brides… These are the searing impressions of the past that come to life in Zulal’s arrangements, reminders of a simpler past, tokens of comfort in the complex, modern world.
Perspectives Ensemble was founded by its Artistic Director Sato Moughalian in 1993 and creates concerts and recordings that feature works of living and historic composers, shedding new light on their work through explorations of their music in the context of their time and place, consistently receiving the highest critical accolades. Praise from The New York Times includes “first-rate performances by accomplished musicians,” “a superb recital by the Perspectives Ensemble,” and “rhythms were remarkably precise, supple and subtle.” Perspectives Ensemble is in residence at the Foundation for Iberian Music at CUNY.” In 2013, Artistic Director Sato Moughalian was honored with the Catalan Institut Ramon Llull’s Creative Arts Prize in a public ceremony in Andorra. Perspectives Ensemble has been presented in Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Lincoln Center, Columbia and New York Universities, the Rubin Museum, Ethical Culture Society, and Morgan Library. It has been a resident ensemble for the Young People’s Chorus of NY’s Transient Glory commissioning program, and for the Miller Theatre’s Pocket Concerto Project and Composer Portraits. Recordings include Sonnets to Orpheus by Richard Danielpour (Sony), Recollections by Karl Husa (New World), and Charles Tomlinson Griffes: Goddess of the Moon (Newport), and most recently, Madrigal: Music of Xavier Montsalvatge (Naxos), which was released in 2013 to glowing international reviews. For more information on Alyssa Reit, including links to purchase her arrangements of Armenian and other works, please visit www.alyssareit.com.
Tonight’s performance also marks the release of Perspectives Recording’s CD: Oror/Lullaby—Armenian Music for Flute and Harp, which is available for purchase here tonight and on CDBaby, Amazon, and iTunes.
Perspectives Ensemble thanks the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for graciously hosting tonight’s performance, and would like to express gratitude to the Cathedral Administration and staff, particularly Kent Tritle, Anna Lenti, Lisa Schubert, and Isadora Wilkenfeld for their invaluable assistance. We are extraordinarily grateful to Suzanne Larson and Gordon Harris for their sustained support of our mission. We thank our production assistant Shia Cardona, and our volunteers, who have so generously contributed their time and service tonight: Sara Bong, Kathleen Crisci, Douglas Raymond, and Jenisha Watts.
All contributions are gratefully accepted and are tax exempt to the extent of the law. Perspectives Ensemble is a 501(c)3 not for profit corporation in the State of New York and celebrates its 22nd concert season in New York in 2015. Perspectives Ensemble 870 West 181st St. #22 New York, NY 10033 212 923 3657
email@example.com perspectivesensemble.com www.facebook.com/perspectivesensemble
This concert is made possible through the generous support of the Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family Foundation and Robert & Suzanne Larson in celebration of the life of Danièle Doctorow. Perspectives Ensemble is deeply honored to be the recipient of the 2015 Danièle Doctorow Prize. Additional support is generously provided by the Hegardt Foundation, Gordon Harris, and Perspectives Ensemble’s many friends.
Here is a very small sampling of recently published, widely available books on the history of the Armenian Genocide: “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else” Ronald Grigor Suny; Great Catastrophe Thomas de Waal; The Armenian Genocide Raymond Kévorkian; Confiscation and Destruction Uğur Ümit Üngör and Mehmet Polatel; A Shameful Act Taner Akçam, Recent novels set in the period include: Sandcastle Girls Chris Bojalian and Orhan’s Inheritance Aline Ohanesian.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is chartered as a house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership. People from many faiths and communities worship together in services held more than 30 times a week; the soup kitchen serves roughly 25,000 meals annually; social service outreach has an increasingly varied roster of programs; the distinguished Cathedral School prepares young students to be future leaders; Adults and Children in Trust, the renowned preschool, afterschool and summer program, offers diverse educational and nurturing experiences; the outstanding Textile Conservation Lab preserves world treasures; concerts, exhibitions, performances and civic gatherings allow conversation, celebration, reflection and remembrance—such is the joyfully busy life of this beloved and venerated Cathedral. www.stjohndivine.org