With grace and professionalism, several students at the FAR-sponsored Azad Shishian Octet Music School gave an afternoon recital welcoming the FAR Young Professionals Trip to Gyumri. Being one of the seven young professionals myself, I felt honored that teachers and students alike shared their talents and time with us. As I watched each performer come on stage, my eyes feasted upon a myriad of instruments, both classical (violins, pianos, and flutes, for example) and those traditional to Armenian heritage, like the duduk and kanoon. As I listened to each young musician, the sweet voices of the singers and the nimble fingers of the violinists kept me enraptured and eager to hear more.
I, too, play the violin and couldn’t help feeling that we share inherent musical experiences, despite the geographical distance separating us. Like them, I am classically trained and play the greats of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. But it was doubly exciting that we all had learned important Armenian works, songs of Gomidas, and could pick up an instrument and express the sounds of our common culture.
With my return to the US, I kept thinking about my happy experience with the Gyumri musicians. As music has always been an unfaltering part of my life and being Armenian a natural given, I discovered that I’d like to know more of this richness alive in our culture—through folk music, classical music, pop music, and the ways in which it brings us together. Whether you are a musician or just enjoy listening, I hope my coming excerpts on music will bring you new thoughts on Armenian music and the ways in which we might listen to it and fill our lives with it.