debut of the chamber orchestra of the armenian diaspora
(Dr Levon Momdjian)
Haratch, Paris, Tuesday, March the 23th, 2004.
Noror, Los Angeles
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
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
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
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
- 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
Orchestre de Chambre de la Diaspora Arménienne > direction : Christian