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The very debut of the  chamber orchestra of the armenian diaspora
(Dr Levon Momdjian)

Haratch, Paris, Tuesday, March the 23th, 2004.
Noror, Los Angeles
Abaka, Montréal

The above thought belongs to the founder of JAPEL Union, Patrick Papazian, a young musicologist who has been persistently working to make the Union become a vehicle of Armenian music in Europe.
Recently the Union was joined by the musician Christian Erbslöh-Papazian, Piano Professor at Metz Univesity of Music, enjoying worldwide known pianist Cziffra's appreciation and backing.
"We have no Armenian orchestra in the Diaspora,- says Christian,- exept for one which reportedly exists under the auspices of Vatche Barsoumian's Lark School of Music. Armenian music is scarcely interpreted, whereas we have a repertoire worth being presented. Our goal is to build up a permanently working Chamber Orchestra of twenty-five musicians to encourage soloists and composers to create and present to music lovers new works inspired by the Armenian musical traditions, classical pieces and folk instrument concerts."
Frederic Chopin Hall of Paris 15th district Conservatory was full of appreciative public who followed the sequence of recitals. An orchestra, not a Chamber one this time, counting fifty members of Armenian or non-Armenian stock came from all over France to take part in the concert  for no fee.
The concert began by L'Étrange Ballade by Eugénie Alécian, the choise being motivated by the desire to promote contemporary works.
It was a three-movement Piece, two of which were vivid and rythmical pieces. The middle lyrical piece was skillfully performed by the orchestra's soloists under Mathilde Vittu's conduct which reflected the extend of her proficiency and noteworthy precision.
The charge of the classical repertoire was taken on by David Douçot, vice-conductor of Lyon Opera's Orchestra and one of those who blew life into the Diaspora Orchestra. He conducted the second  movement of Aram Khachaturian's Piano Concerto. The piano soloist was Krikor Asmarian.
Face to face alone with the whole Orchestra, Asmarian forcefully strove through the Concerto without being led astray into violence. His instrument elegantly and masterfully produced mellow sounds revealing the deeply Armenian temperament of the piece.
I travel to Yerevan for mainly professional reasons. But there is also something giving a savour of pilgrimage to all my visits, and targeted at Demirdjian Street's composers' housing estate in Yerevan quarter of Kond. There used to live artists like Yervant Kochar, Edward Mirzoyan, Al.Harutiunian and Arno Babadjanian.
There also lived  a composer of noble and humble soul, whose works were of utmost singularity being sealed by an unmistakably Armenian mental mould.
It was unequalled Khachatur Avetissian, who would each time hand me a copy of his most recent work.
That night his masterpiece titled 'In Memoriam of Genocide Victims' was showcased in Frederic Chopin hall. The Oratorio consisted of seven movements, of which only two were played, those originally conceived for the traditional Armenian musical instruments.
The first part, the Elegy was a mournfull tune which envelopped the listeners by its tragic air.
I plunge into the depths of my memory, twenty years back and I perceive the great composer in his house, in front of a widely open window with a marvelled expression in his moist eyes and a tender smile on the radiating face. He was listening for the first time to his own works My Straw and The Storks, which I had recorded as played by the classical orchestra.
Taking as a basis very clear orchestral interpretations by Tatul Altunian and leaving the choir's part untouched, I had arranged and conducted the music with the only addition of Armenian instrments dehol (drum hit with hands) and cymbal.
Now I was listening to the same Oratorio by Khachatur Avetissian performed by Christian Erbslöh-Papazian, who had under the same inspiration and very skillfully arranged a worthy instrumental part for a classical orchestra, with six male and female singers and two traditional instrument players.
A pleasing discovery was Anna Kassian, an Armenian soloist, soprano, native of Georgia. Her soft voice streamed with gusto, power and well-honed ability. As she led the audience in Lullaby, many of us would wipe tears.
A small "choir" of six professional singers voiced the tragedy of the piece very tunefully, exept for the rather acute tenor. The conductor was Christian Erbslöh-Papazian.
Armenian folk instrument orchestra of Paris led by Jean-Pierre Nergararian for more than three decades is worthy to be applauded as well as the maestros like Avedis Messuments, Aïda Nergararian featuring 'kanon' an Armenian string instrument and Philippe Chahbazian playing the Armenian varieties of flute - shevi and duduk. They are keeping alive the Armenian folk instrument tradition in Europe.
Our heart's desire is that the Orchestra carry on and grow professionally. It needs also our support and encouragement, because its performance is refreshing and fills you up with new strength.

Dr Levon Momdjian



Samedi 21 février 2004
Auditorium Frédéric Chopin – Paris 15
Orchestre de Chambre de la Diaspora Arménienne : O.C.D.A. (38 musiciens / 6 choristes)
- Création Mondiale : L’Etrange Ballade – Eugénie Alécian
- Concerto pour piano : 2ème Mouvement – Aram Khatchadourian
- Oratorio : Extraits – Khatchatour Avétissian
Direction : Mathilde Vittu , David Douçot , Christian Erbslöh-Papazian
Piano : Grigor Asmarian
Instruments traditionnels : Aïda Nergararian – Kanone / Philippe Chahbazian – Doudouk, Peloul, Shêvi
Organisation : Japel, groupement artistique


O.C.D.A
Orchestre de Chambre de la Diaspora Arménienne > direction : Christian Erbslöh-Papazian
www.ifrance.com/japel/ocda.htm