BY NAIRUHI PETROSYAN
Once again more than 300 people gathered under the arches of magnificent St Cuthbert’s church, united by high arts and wonderful music – simple and sophisticated in its modulations, cordial and incredible in its exceptional resonance, ethnic and at the same time as universal as the conceptions of love, kindness, nature and beauty.
Here is the key to immortality – being such an individual and creator, such a patriot of extreme devotion to world culture in general and your nation in particular, as to make the Russian, Maltese, Bulgarian, British, Greek, Georgian, Cypriot and, of course, Armenian people congregate in one of the greatest cities in the world, in London, to celebrate your birthday after decades of your physical absence… The Heavenly music sounded, as Lord Gordon Byron put it, in the heavenly language, under the arches of the magnificent British spiritual temple, against the background of majestic icons.
Musicians and spectators from all over the world had congregated along with local Armenians to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary and pay their respect and tribute to Komitas: a magnificent event masterminded, organised and directed by Conductor Sipan Olah. The event was unprecedented not only because of the international audience interested in Armenian classical music, but also owing to the fact that most of the musicians had arrived in London from different corners of the world, moreover, all the countries involved were represented by embassy officials. There were a number of greeting addresses, particularly by Baroness Caroline Cox, Mayor of Kensington Will Paskall, Deputy Minister of Science, Culture, Education and Sport of the Republic of Armenia – Narine Khachaturyan, high representative of the Anglican Clergy Paul Bagot.
The event was presented by well-known actress, TV and radio reporter Vasoula Christodoulou and poet, linguist Karen Yeghikyan, who, throughout the concert, spread light on interesting particulars of Komitas’ legacy, his life full of enigmatic episodes, quotations from world renowned masters regarding his genius. The whole event was absorbed with his enchanting music, which has made him immortal, and ‘is forever nested in our souls’, as poet Paruyr Sevak wrote.
The program in brief:
The string quartet is on the stage: Mariam Sargsyan –violin, UK-Armenia, Lyudmila Lugovskaya –violin, Russia-UK, Paul Livingston – viola, UK, Sofiko Tvauri – cello, Georgia-UK. Each and every piece is unique in its melodic moods, colour pallets and rhythmic images – Edchmiadzin Dance, Shogher Djan, Chinar es – She‘s Slender like a plane tree, Kakavik – Song of the little Partridge.
The audience enjoyed an extremely lyrical, vibrant, a little melancholy, utterly ethereal piano piece – “Shushiki” – Evgenia Terentieva, piano, Russia – UK
This spirit dwells in Mother Nature, on the mountain slopes covered with fragrant flowers, absorbed by the soothing river sounds, loving and dedicating songs to the beloved. “Es arun”, “Yes saren kugayi”, “Zinch u zinch” – Katerina Mina, soprano, Cyprus – UK
“Hayastan, the Garden of Eden”… the mastermind, organizer and director of the event tenor Sipan Olah is on the stage.
‘‘The Crane” a bird, which has traditionally been expected to bring news about the homeland to the tormented Armenian exiles. Mariam Sargsyan, violin, UK-Armenia
Komitas’ heritage includes a number of love-songs, expressing the feelings of young men and women encapsulating their endearing perceptions of true beauty. “Qele-qele”, “Akh, Maral jan”, “Ervum em” – Helen Rotchell, mezzo-soprano, United Kingdom
The apricot tree, embodied by an Armenian girl, is on the stage: “Apricot tree” – Hayarpi Yeghikyan, soprano, UK-Armenia
One more fascinating dialogue between man and nature. “Alagyaz”, “Elemi tree” – Angelo Muskat, tenor – Malta
This little bird, the swallow, soaring high into the sky, communicates with an individual, suffering from nostalgia, listens to the sounds of his tormented soul and tries to take his message to his beloved one in the homeland. This is a beautiful portrayal with impressive melodic vibrations, symbolizing freedom and independence. “The Swallow” – Andriana Yordanova, soprano Bulgaria-Malta
Being extremely varied, the program included a love-song depicting a very moving conversation from a couple, deeply in love.– “Habrban” Sipan Olah, tenor, Hayarpi Yeghikyan, soprano, Mariam Sargsyan, violin, Evgenia Terentieva, piano.
The audience enjoyed choir works of the master in the second part of the concert, some of which were performed by an ensemble of professional singers, and others by the Klingen choir under the baton of conductor Sipan Olah. The ensemble presented spiritual songs “Lord’s prayer”, “Sourb, sourb”, “Hayrapetakan anthem”, followed by “Little girl”, “Aravot lusaber”, “Yar jan, ari”, “Garun a”. The Klingen Choir started with “Andzrevn yekav”, presented a few more jewels from Komitas’ inexhaustible depository, and finished the concert by “Gutanerg – Song of the ploughman” with the participation of all the invited musicians.
Following a well-established tradition, Lebanese Armenian well-known painter Leonie Pilart presented her exhibition of canvases, dedicated specially to Komitas. Designer Alice Martirossian joined the exhibition with her hand-made dolls wearing national Armenian costumes of different historical periods and geographical locations.
I would like to thank all those people, owing to whose efforts this event came true, all the people, who being non-Armenian, admire Komitas’ music so much, that enrich the curricula of their educational institutions with his creations, include his songs in their solo concerts…Yes, I mean well-known Bulgarian-Maltese soprano, Dr Andriana Yordanova, who is undoubtedly one of the best performers of Komitas’ “Swallow” in the whole world. Thanks to all those people, who enjoyed the concert with tearful eyes, and whose souls trembled with the wonderful melodies, and special thanks to talented director Sipan Olah, who managed to organize such an unprecedented event putting in all his time and efforts.