Culture

Berklee Middle Eastern Festival to celebrate the Music of Armenia

The sixth annual Berklee Middle Eastern Festival: The Music of Armenia will take place at the Berklee Performance Center on Monday, March 3. The festival presents visiting artists from The Middle East, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean along with students to experience the musical traditions of the regions, World Music Central informs.

Berklee Middle Eastern Festival: The Music of Armenia will feature Perspectives Ensemble directed by flutist Sato Moughalian, presenting Dark Eyes/New Eyes with a cappella trio Zulal and live painting by artist Kevork Mourad; and music from neighboring regions, including a Bulgarian performance with Berklee’s Pletenitsa Choir, the Ludo Mlado Dance Ensemble, the Sayat Nova Folk Dance Ensemble, and the Berklee World Strings directed by Eugene Friesen.

Festival founder and director Christiane Karam, assistant professor of voice, chose Armenia to be featured this year. “My grandparents were exiled in 1915 and my mother was born in Beirut,” said Karam. “It was important to me to go back to my roots and tell the story of the people and the culture through their music.”

Perspectives Ensemble was founded in 1993 by Sato Moughalian. The ensemble presents the works of composers in cultural context with thematic programs on subjects that bridge the visual, musical, and literary arts. Dark Eyes/New Eyes had its genesis in the friendship and collaboration that developed between Moughalian, Eve Beglarian, and Kevork Mourad. “These two New York based Armenian artists and I share aspects of our family histories,” said Moughalian. “All of us being the descendants of people who were displaced, and then went on to create vibrant new lives.”

Dark Eyes/New Eyes incorporates a wide spectrum of Armenian music, from the very old to the very new. The program follows the arc of a life, from beginnings in a mountainous Armenian village, spending youth in a city learning an ancient art form, desolation, recovery, and regenerating in a new place. “Dark Eyes/New Eyes honors our ancestors and our friends—those who have passed into the great beyond but have left with us the gifts of their art and their spirits,” added Moughalian.

Syrian-born artist Kevork Mourad will paint live on-stage during Dark Eyes/New Eyes. After getting his master’s from Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia, Mourad got the idea to combine visual art with his love of music. He has worked with many world-class musicians using his technique of spontaneous painting.

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