Fabulous Flora: Nation Bids Farewell To Its Beloved Artist


FEATURES | 11.12.12 | 15:14


ArmeniaNow reporter

Living soul legend Stevie Wonder promised to write a song and sing it
in a duet with Flora Martirosyan after he heard her perform last year
in a concert promoting awareness of the Armenian Genocide.

Wonder was one of a few world-famed artists to join the Armenian
singer in a cause against injustice.

Martirosyan intended to stage more of her “Never Again” events until
2015 when Armenians worldwide will commemorate the centennial of the
Ottoman-era Genocide, but she succumbed to complications after a
surgery at a U.S. clinic last month.

Martirosyan, who moved to the United States together with her husband
in 1991, but shuttled between the two continents to remain attached to
her homeland Armenia, died in Burbank, LA, California, on November 20,
aged 55.

With consent of the family, the body of Martirosyan, the People’s
Artist of Armenia, was transferred to Yerevan Monday and laid to rest
at the City Pantheon in the Armenian capital today, December 11.

People of all walks of life – from state officials and dignitaries to
scholars and ordinary fans of her art – turned out to attend the
funeral organized by an Armenian government commission.

Before that, many came to bid farewell to Martirosyan at St. Ghevond
Church in Los Angeles last Thursday.

Martirosyan, a native of Gyumri, which is held as Armenia’s cultural
capital, was the youngest in the family of four children. Having
inherited vocal skills from her mother, the young singer took part in
the Garoun 1973 song contest to win the first place among 800
participants. In 1978, she went to win her first international prize
at a festival in Hamburg, Germany.

Gusan Ashot’s famous Tsovastghik song performed by Martirosyan has for
15 years stayed on top of the Armenian music charts to become the
singer’s brand song.

As a soloist at a state folk orchestra Martirosyan visited more than
70 countries and also unfolded activities in Armenia where from 1997
to 2001 she headed a music school in Yerevan. In 2002, Martirosyan
established an International Music Academy named after Komitas in the
United States and in 2006 initiated A Pan-Armenian Song Contest

In 2008, the singer, jointly with Michael Stone (a brother of Sharon
Stone), set up an international organization, Artists for Peace, to
raise awareness of crimes against humanity and the 2011 “Never Again”
concert featuring several famous artists was part of the
organization’s efforts.

Reflecting on the path of the singer, one of her music teachers Arzas
Voskanyan says that she would not stop at her achievements, while
always trying to reach new heights.

“Flora was already a recognized artist with beautiful, lyrical songs,
but she also took up medieval music and we also reached Komitas. Flora
overcame [performance difficulties related to] all these songs to
achieve a result, making gorgeous performances of Komitas,” remembers
the composer and singer.

“Her voice seemed to have been meant for performing Komitas,
Yekmalyan,” he adds.

Voskanyan and Martirosyan met in 1976 when the commencing singer was
still a student at the choir conducting department of the Romanos
Melikian Music College in Yerevan.

Voskanyan remembers the day when “a pretty, pale-skinned, plump girl
talking with humor typical of Gyumri natives” appeared in his
classroom. “We got acquainted, chatted for a bit, but Flora liked
singing, more than choir-conducting,” says Voskanyan.

Shortly Martirosyan became a soloist of the Folk Instruments Orchestra
led by Voskanyan.

“She was the heart of the orchestra, a pillar supporting its roof. She
made friends with everyone and always cheered people up in difficult
situations,” remembers Voskanyan.

In 2005, Armenian pop singer Kristine Pepelyan sang in a duet along
with Martirosyan, performing one of the most popular Armenian lyrical
songs, “Let My Love Remain Secret”.

“Flora was very hospitable. She liked having guests in the yard of her
house in the States. When she prepared something delicious, she rang
her friends up for a dinner,” remembers Pepelyan.

Martirosyan had many fans in and outside Armenia who tried not to miss
her concerts. One of them, Bella Kurghinyan, says that the singer was
always immediate during her concerts, she talked to the audience and
always wanted people to accompany her in singing – the audience
responded gladly.

“Unlike many other singers who quickly disappear from stage, she
patiently stayed and talked to everyone, allowed everyone who wanted
to take pictures with her. She is a symbol of femininity and morality
for me,” says the fan.

From: Baghdasarian