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Evening with Armenian Accent: Komitas at 150 - The Story of a Musical Giant

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Henrik Karapetyan (violin), Svetlana Sahakyan (voice), and Xavier Suarez (piano) present works by different Armenian composers to focus on the life and music of Komitas Vardapet: his influence, legacy and international musical importance.

The concert is dedicated to the 150th anniversary of one of the giants of the Armenian music and one of the most prominent ethnomusicologists of all time, Komitas (nee Soghomon Soghomonian).

Komitas Vardapet (“Vardapet” is the Armenian word for a priest) was born in 1869 in Kutahia, Ottoman Empire, in a family of Armenians. Orphaned at an early age he was sent to Echmiadzin, the Holy See of Armenia, to receive education. As Armenian speech was banned under a severe punishment by the Turkish authorities in Kutahia, Komitas learned to speak his native language at the seminary and immersing himself in his culture and music soon became a prominent scholar, musician, choir director and composer whose life was wholly dedicated to saving the jewels of his musical culture and cleaning them from foreign elements that had permeated it throughout centuries. A highly educated man who spoke several languages (Armenian, Turkish, French, German among them) and studied music in Europe, he was respected by European musical authorities. Often called the “Savior of Armenian Music” he accomplished colossal work in a course of a decade or two, collecting over 3000 songs (more than half lost), organizing number of choirs which he directed, composing, arranging music, writing articles and meticulously detailed analysis of folk songs, and even partially decoding lost art of reading Medieval Armenian notation. It is, indeed, a hard task to find another ethnomusicologist who can match the volume of Komitas’ achievements completed in half a lifetime.