Istanbul hosts world premiere of new sonata by Tigran Mansurian

Kim Kashkashian, the American violist who made her debut in the 2013 edition of the Istanbul Music Festival, returned to the festival and the same venue – the ancient Surp Vortvots Vorodman Church in Kumkapi – on June 10, with pianist Péter Nagy, to premiere a new work by Tigran Mansurian, reports.

According to the source, it was a musical match made in heaven. Its enthusiastic reception, coupled with such an ideal setting for a program dedicated largely to Armenian music, was a moment in history for the festival and Mansurian. The composer’s richly emotional “Sonata da Chiesa for Viola and Piano: In Memoriam Komitas Vardapet” deserves worldwide attention and is destined to become a prominent piece in the viola literature.

Known for her adventurous repertoire that often includes contemporary and newly commissioned works, Kashkashian is a 2013 Grammy Award winner for her recording “Kurtag/Ligeti Music for Viola.” Mansurian has previously written three works for her and he himself participated as pianist and vocalist the recording of one of them.

The June 10 world premiere was a commission from the festival organizers –  the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV). The 76-year old Mansurian, who is one of Armenia’s most revered living composers, was in attendance. Prior to the concert, he participated in a pre-concert interview with choir master and music teacher Hagop Mamigonyan. The composer revealed that the title’s “Sonata da Chiesa” (Church Sonata) referred to the Surp Vortvots Vorodman Church and it was dedicated to the Armenian ethno-musicologist, composer, and singer Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935), who spent the last days of his creative life in Istanbul.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS