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Carnegie Hall event commemorates 25th anniversary of Spitak earthquake

An unexpected combination of Armenian folk songs, classical compositions and Spanish lyrics all came together seamlessly at this year’s AGBU New York Special Events Committee (NYSEC) Performing Artists in Concert. The sixth annual event, held on December 7, 2013, drew hundreds of guests to the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to commemorate the earthquake that devastated Armenia 25 years ago.

The evening’s program featured a number of well-known Armenian composers, as well as original pieces prepared especially for the NYSEC concert. Making its world premiere was Tomás Barreiro’s “Rossignol Mecanique,” a variation of “The Death of the Nightingale,” which won Barreiro the AGBU 2012 Sayat Nova International Composition Competition and earned him the prize to showcase his work at Carnegie Hall. The duduk, mezzo-soprano, oboe, piano and string trio brought the composition to life.

Before taking the conductor’s stand, Barreiro, a Mexico City native, commented on the Sayat Nova poetry that influenced him. He also expressed his gratitude to AGBU, stating, “I have participated in a number of competitions and never before found such an amazing group of people. I cannot claim Armenian roots, but the AGBU Sayat Nova International Composition Competition introduced me to the vibrant Armenian community and its incredibly rich musical heritage, which continue to inspire me.”

“Rossignol Mecanique” was one of the concert’s many works to combine Armenian traditional music and more contemporary sounds. Maxime Aulio’s “Odes Arméniennes,” which also debuted at the NYSEC event, rearranged four of Sayat Nova’s poems. “Tagh to Resurrection” by Tigran Mansurian incorporated medieval melodies while replicating an audio recording of Vartapet Komitas. The audience also enjoyed “Impromptu” and “Verhoush” by the late Alexander Arutiunian and Edward Mirzoyan, respectively, as well as famous pieces by Aram Khachaturian in honor of the 110th anniversary of his birth.

The young concert performers are carrying on the legacy of Khachaturian, and other Armenian masters, as they pursue their own careers with support from the AGBU Scholarship Program. Each member of the international ensemble has received an AGBU Performing Arts Fellowship: Pierre Bedrossian (oboe, duduk and English horn); Ani Kalayjian (cello); Henrik Karapetyan (violin and viola); Solange Merdinian (mezzo-soprano); Nazig Tchakarian (violin); Varta Tchakarian (piano); and Adam Tendler (piano). With AGBU’s funding, they have trained at some of the world’s top-ranking institutions, among them the Yerevan State Komitas Conservatory, the Juilliard School of Music, the National Music Conservatory of Paris, and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

The concert’s artistic director Nazig Tchakarian, who partnered with AGBU Performing Arts Department director, Hayk Arsenyan, commented, “It was a pleasure to have collaborated with such dedicated and talented artists. After months of preparation, and a great week of rehearsing, it was rewarding to see everything come together so beautifully. I was very pleased to be able to give back to AGBU after all the organization has done for me over the years, and am thankful to AGBU and NYSEC for making this evening such a tremendous success.”

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