AGBU PAD Sayat Nova International Composition Competition Announces Winners

AGBU Press Office
55 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022-1112


Wednesday, January 9, 2019


For over a decade, the AGBU PAD Sayat Nova Composition Competition has been 
inviting musicians of all heritages to be inspired by the grand tradition of 
Armenian arts. Winners have been named from all over the world, from Hong Kong 
to Mexico, Syria to France, each recognized for their versatility, ingenuity 
and artistry. As their original compositions have traveled to international 
audiences for world premieres, our composers have built their network of fans, 
increasing their exposure globally. 2018 was a year of celebrating great 
strides and historic progress in women’s rights in the Armenian World so it was 
only appropriate that the competition announced revolutionary 20th century poet 
Silva Kaputikyan as the inspiration for competing composers. The winning 
compositions of 2018 are Aregnaz Martirosyan’s “Inqnutyun” [Identity] in first 
place, Bardy Minassian’s “Loure da Loure” [News, It’s News] in second place, 
and James Maunders’ “Khosk Im Vordun” [A Word to My Son] in third place. 

Silva Kaputikyan was a revolutionary artistic force in the 20th century, 
prolific in her poetry and social activism. While her art memorializes the 
universal travails of love and loss, she engaged with the numerous yet 
particular facets of Armenian identity, forever conscious of the people’s 
suffering and sovereignty. Kaputikyan’s words were therefore rewardingly 
complex primary sources for composers to weave into their own work. “Her spirit 
is present in my piece as she was equally a romantic and nationalist poet,” 
asserts Bardy Minassian, who won second place with a composition inspired by 
Kaputikyan’s “Loure da Loure,” a poem based on Vrtanes Papazian’s novel of the 
same name. “For Kaputikyan, his novel carried a national, patriotic message: a 
man of the working class represented the poverty and injustice of the people 
whilst his lover’s father, an aristocrat, represented the regime that enforced 
the injustice,” she explains. 

Born to Armenian parents in Aleppo, Syria, Minassian is a classically trained 
composer and guitarist. In 2012, she graduated Parsegh Ganachian Music School 
but when the Syrian Civil War broke out, Minassian was forced to flee the 
country with her family. After settling in Yerevan, Armenia, she began her 
studies at the Komitas State Conservatory, graduating with her Bachelor of 
Music for Composition with honors in 2017. Inspired by the symbolism of 
Kaputikyan’s poetic interpretation in “Loure da Loure,” and enchanted by the 
rhythmic repetition of the language, she crafted a piece that entices the 
audience to engage in a story deeper than what it appears. 

Kaputikyan’s poetry not only subverts recognizable archetypes in literature, 
but wrestles with behemoth cultural concepts, often making the personal 
political. “Since becoming a father, I’ve been continually drawn to themes of 
continuity, passing on things to the next generation and that connection 
between parent and child” James Maunders, whose “Khosk Im Vordun” took third 
place this year, explains. “I was struck by the relationship between motherhood 
and mother tongue in this poem, the concept of what a mother might want to say 
to a child who is leaving her— or indeed what a motherland might say to her 
people who have left her.” As a windplayer, Maunders took on the challenge of 
composing for both the duduk and the zurna for the first time for the 
competition, learning techniques, fingerings and ranges by studying videos and 
speaking with other musicians. 

Originally from Norwich, England where he was a chorister and student of the 
clarinet, saxophone and piano, Maunders is working as an educator, composer, 
conductor and musician in Newbury. Currently, he is completing his Master’s 
Degree at Birmingham City University. For the Sayat Nova Composition 
Competition, he succeeded in creating a work that imbues a classical orchestral 
composition with traditional Armenian sounds, incorporating voices that laud 
and lament into one piece. 

With a vast body of work, spanning decades, Kaputikyan was an artist who indeed 
celebrated and grieved through her life and career. Aregnaz Martirosyan, the 
first-place winner of the 2018 Sayat Nova Composition Competition, chose to 
meditate on these many meticulous interpretations of the poet’s inner world. To 
compose her piece, Martirosyan used four poems marking the four movements— 
“Indignation,” “Thoughts on The Halfway,” “Late Words” and “It Is Late”—to 
narrate her own family history, honoring her grandmother as the hero. “I’m 
telling the story of my grandmother in a piece that uses the duduk, zurna and 
the western classical instruments, which are already very difficult to combine, 
but with music and Kaputikyan’s poetry, I was able to convey what I could not 
communicate with words,” she reveals. Intergenerational trauma also comes with 
the recognition of the triumph of survival and Martirosyan’s composition 
invites the audience to consider their own family’s history. 

Currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Music Composition at the Komitas 
State Conservatory of Yerevan, Martirosyan already has a Bachelor’s degree in 
the study. Born in Dvin, Armenia, she is a passionate musician, educator and 
composer whose work has been performed internationally. She has been a member 
of the Youth Forum of the Armenian Composers' Union and the Scientific Council 
of Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory since 2018. 

Initiated by AGBU France in 2006 and held biennially since the establishment of 
PAD in 2012, the AGBU PAD Sayat Nova Composition Competition continues to 
challenge, connect and reward talented musicians worldwide. 2018 was a 
monumental year in celebrating original talents. First-place winner Aregnaz 
Martirosyan will receive 2,500€ and the Armenian National Philharmonic 
Orchestra Award, a commissioning award to write an orchestral work that will 
premiere by the ANPO during the 2019/20 season. In second place, Bardy 
Minassian will receive 1,500 € and the Carnegie Hall Award, having her piece 
premiere at the “AGBU Performing Artists in Concert” at the Weill Recital Hall 
on December 6th, 2019. In third place, James Maunders will receive 1,000€ and 
the Piano Teachers Congress of New York Award, in which he will be commissioned 
a work to be premiered at Carnegie Hall during the Piano Teachers Congress of 
New York's Honors Program Gala in November 2019.  

The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit 
organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, 
cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making a 
difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the 
Armenian diaspora.  Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching goal: 
to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians. To learn more visit

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