In 2013, the Armenian Music Program was launched at UCLA with a single ensemble-in-residence, the string quartet VEM. The ensemble performed on campus and conducted a few outreach programs in what were admittedly modest beginnings.
A lot has changed in ten years.
When the program hosts its third-annual Day of Armenian Music on May 26 at Schoenberg and Lani Hall, it marks just how far the program has come. The program now has two ensembles-in-residence that conduct educational outreach in the Los Angeles community. They also perform, record, and tour regularly across the United States and the world.
“I am very proud of how the Armenian Music Program has developed,” said Movses Pogossian, professor of violin and the program’s director. “Being able to preserve and amplify Armenian musical traditions in all their forms, whether classical or folk or jazz, has been so rewarding. It is really stimulating to work with all of these musicians and artists.”
The Day of Armenian Music features two primary events. The first is a number of workshops and performances with an educational focus. Students from local Armenian schools will be able to participate in a dance workshop, and will be treated to a concert in Schoenberg Hall by the Armenian Music Program’s resident Lernazang Ensemble featuring legendary folk singer Hasmik Harutyunyan.
“I am sure our audience will appreciate seeing Armenian folk instruments such as the double-reeded duduk or the stringed kamancha performed live by masters Emmanuel Hovhannisyan and Vardan Baghdasaryan” said Melissa Bilal, the associate director of the Armenian Music Program. The concert will also showcase the 2022-23 recipients of the VEM Fellowship for the Study and Performance of Armenian Music, Adam Frary and Max Ary.
The day will culminate in a concert at 5:00 p.m. featuring the day’s special guest, pianist and composer Artur Avanesov. The concert will be preceded by a “meet the artist” session, a panel including Avanesov and UCLA composer Ian Krouse.
“Avanesov’s music is beautifully transparent, always impeccably crafted, and transcending both the performer and the listeners alike into a joyful state of wonder from the beginning to the end” said Pogossian.
A highly regarded composer, Avanesov was born in 1980 in Moscow and trained in composition at the Yerevan State Conservatory in Armenia from 1997-2002. His music, both his compositions and work as a piano performer, can be found on the Deutsche Grammophon label and Albany Records, along with others.
The concert will be performed by the VEM Ensemble, with special guest Varty Manouelian, violinist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a lecturer in violin performance at the School of Music. It will feature premiers of work by Avanesov and Jahan Raymond, who was the winner of the 2023 Tigran Mansurian Competition. Concert program will also include works by Khosrovitukhd, Koharik Gazarossian, and Edward Mirzoyan as well as a folk song collected by Mihran Toumajan arranged by VEM cellist Niall Tarō Ferguson.
“The Day of Armenian Music reflects our aspirations for creating a vibrant Armenian music scene on UCLA campus,” said Bilal. “We are looking forward to spending a whole day sharing music and dance with our enthusiastic audience of all ages.”