Sayat Nova School of Music Dazzles Bostonians


The young musicians, conducted by Narine Zakaryan

By Jirair Hovsepian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator

LEXINGTON, Mass. — For part of their national tour, the Armenian students ages 12 to 17 from Yerevan’s Sayat Nova School of Music performed to an enthusiastic audience of around 500 at the recently-renovated Cary Memorial Auditorium here.

The Amaras Art Alliance organized this national tour, which has taken the young artists to Washington, DC, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Boston and finally California to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Hovhanness Badalian’s birth and its own 20th anniversary.

The school has been under the leadership of Prof. Tigran Hekekyan since 2003. He received the Movses Khorenatsi Medal in 1996 and honorary title of Prominent Educator by President Serge Sargisian this year. Hekekyan has also been the founder, artistic director and principal conductor of the Little Sisters of Armenia choir and other choirs which between 1990 and 1995 won many prizes within the international arena.

Narine Zakaryan soaks up the applause.

The young musicians’ arsenal included the Armenian traditional folk instruments and classical instruments, as well as a talented choral section, consisting of spirited Armenian singers.

At the helm was conductor Narine Zakaryan, the head of the Department of Traditional Instruments and a kanoun instructor. She moved every piece of the orchestra to her will, commanding applause from the audience.

The school began the classical portion of the program with David Hovhannisyan on the piano, performing Aram Khachaturian’s Toccata with precision and feeling.

Haig Soukiassyan, playing the cello and David Hovhannisyan on piano

While Hovhannisyan accompanied on the piano, Elizabeth Arakelyan played Ouzoundara, and Kaytarma on the violin, to the thunderous applause of the appreciative audience.

Again Hovhannisyan accompanied on the piano, while Haig Soukiassyan, masterfully playing the cello piece Vocalise by Arno Babajanian, causing one to forget their surroundings.

Hovhannisyan sat at the piano again for a solo performance of Arno Babajanian’s Six Scenes playing only the three movements (Traditional, Improvisation and Toccatina), receiving tremendous cheering and whistling applause from the audience.

Anahit Mkhitaryan on kanun

This time Soukiassyan returned with his cello to play Komitas’ Groung that was played with great depth of emotion. Accompanying him was Hovhannisian. Then Soukiassyan played Exprompt by Alexander Harutyunian, again accompanied by Hovhannisyan.

Following a brief intermission, the Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston jointly celebrated this Amaras milestone with dynamic performances of “Sayat Nova,” a women’s dance paying homage to the troubadour, “Yaman Yar” another elegant traditional women’s dance, and “Ourmia,” a dahul and zourna energetic dance consisting of male and female dancers, which included stomping and intricate choreography.

The dance company’s series of performances ended with the zesty “Vasbourakan.” In the second half of the program, Zakaryan took charge of the orchestra with the beginning drumbeats of the dhol by Hamlet Peloshyan. Festive Armenia by Khachatur Avedissian was truly a festive piece of music, using all the sounds of the orchestra. This was followed by the traditional Dance of Vagharshabad.

Young women from the Sayat Nova Dance Company

Madlena Galstyan sang Chinar Es by Komitas with an angelic voice. The thunderous applause showed how much they enjoyed this young talented singer. Her next song was one of Badalian’s favorites, Khachatur Avedissian’s Djouret Yerevan (The Water of Yerevan). Kanounist Anahit Mkhitaryan played Tamam Ashkharh with such feeling that the audience almost had to hold its breath during the soft plucking of the notes.

Zakaryan returned to the stage and conducted Khachatur Martirossian’s Dance Suite that had a moving cello solo by Haig Soukiassyan, as well as a beautiful doudouk and a vibrant dhol solo.

Van Mouradyan came to the stage and waited in front of the microphone while Zakaryan conducted the orchestra playing Yes Im Anoush Hayastani by Ashot Satian. The talented young boy impressed the audience as he began singing with such a high-pitched voice, and demonstrated a comfort with the low notes as well.

Following this ovation, tar soloist Tigran Galstyan played a traditional Armenian folk music Vay Sarin. He was accompanied by Hamlet Peloshyan on dhol. This was followed by kanounists Anahit Mkhitaryan, Elen Hayrapetyan and Nare Vanoyan playing Festive by Tsovinar Hovhannissian.

The audience welcomed Galstyan returning to the microphone to singKele Kele by Komitas followed with Iriknayin by Khachadour Avedissian. The appreciative audience applauded for almost two minutes recalling this young, shy, talented girl to the stage for a second bowing.

Zakaryan conducted the orchestra to Alexander Spendiarian’s tune of Dance of the Men followed by traditional music Hunz and the patriotic Zartir Lao sung by the dynamic Mouradyan. This prompted him to sing Genatsi Yerk words by G. Saryan that encouraged a clapping and thunderous standing ovation for Mouradyan.

At the conclusion of the program, Very Rev. Raphael Andonian of the Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church expressed his gratitude saying that, “For the first time I approach the microphone with fear because these, our Armenian children, girls and boys, played so beautifully that for a minute it makes me lack for words.”

Hekekyan noted that this is his third trip to Boston, twice with the choir and the other with the Sayat Nova Ensemble and “every time I feel the warmth from this city… and of all places that we have visited, the children be witnesses, that your reception, your warmth, already makes us to be in want of this community from Armenia.” He especially recognized Arax Badalian, the founder of the organization, for her dedication along with all her relations.

All photos by Jirair Hovsepian