Dan Yessian released “The Freedom, The Fear and The Faith: An Armenian Trilogy” nearly eight years ago, and it’s remained a high point in a career that’s full of awards and achievements.
In 2014 the Farmington Hills-based composer was asked by his church priest to write a piece commemorating the centennial of the genocide in which 1.5 million Armenian families were murdered by the Turkish Ottomans. Yessian created an evocative three-movement, 22-minute duet between piano and violin, composed on one of the late Burt Bacharach’s old pianos. It was performed in 2017 by the Armenian Philharmonic and became the subject of a documentary by Yessian that will have its broadcast premiere at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 12, on Detroit Public Television (Channel 56).
“My objective was to musically interpret the feelings of my grandparents, whose stories reflected their escape from Turkey,” explains Yessian, 78, founder of Yessian Music, which also has offices and studios, run by his sons, in New York, Los Angeles and Hamburg, Germany. And while most of his composing work is shorter form for commercial clients, “An Armenian Trilogy” allowed him to stretch himself beyond that.
“This is the culmination of all my musical experience,” Yessian notes. “It was quite a feat for me in trying to make something interesting enough that would portray what (the genocide) was — which I never thought I’d be capable of doing. So this is something I could leave for my family, and for posterity, per se. It’s a passion.”
Yessian will appear during Sunday’s broadcast of the documentary, interviewed by DPTV’s Fred Nahat. The “Trilogy” itself is available via Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.