The World Global Hits: Armenian Lullabies by Hasmik Harutyunyan

BBC Global Hits
April 22, 2004
Armenian Lullabies by Hasmik Harutyunyan

Armenia has been an independent state for little more than 12
years. But its culture and traditions are said to go back 7000
years. The folk band Shoghaken Ensemble plays the music of Armenia.

As a former member of the Soviet Union, Armenia had to re-invent a lot
of things when it became an independent nation in 1991. Harold
Hagopian is the Shoghaken Ensemble’s record producer. He says that to
revive Armenia’s authentic folk-dance music the ensemble have had to
undo 70 years of Soviet influence.

Harold Hagopian: A lot of the music had been choreographed and taught
at the conservatories. And though these musicians attended those
Soviet conservatories, since the fall of the Soviet in 1991, they’ve
tried to see how the music might have been played outside of this
rigid structure and so they spent a lot of time with actual villagers
and people who came to Armenia in 1915 and survived the genocide and
fled from Turkey.

89 years ago Turkish nationalists were killing ethnic Armenians in an
attempt to form a homogenous Turkish state.

Today The Shoghaken Ensemble are giving Armenian culture a global
audience. In 2002, cellist Yo Yo Ma invited one of the players to join
his Silk Road ensemble. And that same year, Shoghaken collaborated on
the score of the film “Ararat” about the Armenian genocide. One track
from the film is performed on an oboe-like instrument called the
duduk. The New York Times’ critic Jon Pareles has written: “there may
be no instrument that can sound as richly inconsolable.”

This month, the ensemble is releasing 2 new albums. One of
traditional dances as well as a collection of songs. Harold Hagopian
says singer Hasmik Harutyunyan has memorized quite a repertoire of
traditional songs.

Harold Hagopian: The singer of the group specializes in Armenian
lullabies and she knows over 200 lullabies from all of the regions of

The Shoghaken ensemble are currently on a US tour. They will be
performing in Cambridge, Massachussets, this Saturday, the anniversary
of the 1915 genocide.

Shoghaken Ensemble US Tour Dates:

April 22: Washington DC (Smithsonian Museum)
April 24: Cambridge, MA (Harvard University)
April 30: Hanover, NH (Dartmouth College)
May 2: New York, NY (Symphony Space)
May 4: Ithaca, NY (Cornell University)
May 8: Philadelphia, PA (Annenberg Center)

Audio Report:

Artist: Hasmik Harutyunyan
Title: Armenian Lullabies
Label: Traditional Crossroads
Country: Armenia