VENICE — The Giorgio Cini Foundaton at Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies in Venice, Italy, with the collaboration of the Venice Armenian Cultural Studies and Documentation Centre, and with contributions from several Italian and foreign scholars, has organized a day-long seminar devoted to Armenian Liturgical Chant which will be held on December 2, 2010.
The study day will also provide the opportunity to commemorate Father Vertanes Oulouhodjian from the Monastery of the Mekhitarist Fathers of San Lazzaro, who died on 24 May 2010. He was not only a sublime singer but also an expert on the liturgical repertoire and the modal system of mediaeval Armenian music.
To end the study day there will be a concert by the AKN Choir, Paris, conducted by Aram Kerovpyan. In addition to giving performances, this choir also founded the Centre for Armenian Liturgical Chant Studies in 1998. Aram Kerovpyan is an authoritative performer and expert on Armenian liturgical chant. For years he has been devoted to rediscovering traditional repertoires, in particular sharagan (hymns or tropes) which, to gether with melismatic and recitative psalmody, form the largest Armenian musical liturgy.
For some time now there has been growing renewed interest in the ways in which man manifests through music his relationship with faith, the religious dimension and the sphere of the sacred. This interest has emerged not only in the work of musicologists, ethnomusicologists and anthropologists but also in historical-religious studies and theology.
The idea is to promote an annual study day on a specific topic related to the relationship between “voice” and “prayer”. An integral part of the event will be a concert with world-class performers to illustrate the repertoires being discussed. Each meeting will thus probably deal with a different individual liturgical tradition, a given geographical area, or a specific European or non-European repertoire.
Given that the venue is in Venice it is easy to see why it was decided to devote the first study day to the repertoire of an Eastern Christian church, in this case Armenian liturgical chant. This is not only because for centuries Venice pursued a policy as a strategic ‘bridge’ from which Western Christianity looked to the East, but mainly because in its lagoon – on the island commonly called “L’Isola degli Armeni” – we find one of most important places of the Armenian religious diaspora: the Monastery of the Mekhitarist Congregation of San Lazzaro. In terms of music, moreover, the Monastery of San Lazzaro is particularly important because since Mekhitar founded the monastery in 1717 its monks have preserved and handed down their own specific repertoire.

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