Berklee Middle Eastern Festival: The Music of Armenia

By
Margot Edwards
February 13, 2014
Sato Moughalian
The Berklee World Strings
Christiane Karam
Kevork Mourad
Zulal
Pletenitsa Choir and Ludo Mlado
Sayat Nova Dance Ensemble
photo by Devon Cass
photo provided by the artist
photo provided by the artist
photo provided by the artist
photo provided by the artist
photo provided by the artist
photo provided by the artist

The Signature Music Series at Berklee continues on March 3 with Berklee’s sixth annual Middle Eastern Festival: The Music of Armenia. The program will feature Perspectives Ensemble directed by flutist Sato Moughalian, presenting Dark Eyes/New Eyes, with a cappella folk trio Zulal and live painting by Kevork Mourad. Special guests include Ludo Mlado and acclaimed Armenian folk singer Aleksan Harutyunyan.

The concert will also feature music from neighboring regions, including a set of Bulgarian music with Berklee’s Pletenitsa Balkan Choir, the Ludo Mlado Dance Ensemble, the Sayat Nova Folk Dance Ensemble, and the Berklee World Strings directed by Eugene Friesen.

Berklee Middle Eastern Festival: The Music of Armenia takes place Monday, March 3, 8:15 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA. Reserved seating tickets are available for $8 in advance, $12 day of show at berklee.edu/bpc. The venue is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call the BPC at 617 747-2261.

The festival brings visiting artists from the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean together with students to experience the musical traditions of the regions—in past years highlighting Flamenco, Balkan, Turkish, Lebanese, and Palestinian music. Festival founder and director Christiane Karam, assistant professor of voice, chose Armenia this time because she is part Armenian. “My grandparents were exiled in 1915 and my mother was born in Beirut,” said Karam. “It was important to me to go back to my roots and tell the story of the people and the culture through their music.”

Watch a performance by Berklee's Pletenitsa Balkan Choir here:

Perspectives Ensemble was founded in 1993 by its artistic director Moughalian. The ensemble presents the works of composers in cultural context with thematic programs on subjects that bridge the visual, musical, and literary arts. Dark Eyes/New Eyes had its genesis in the friendship and collaboration that developed between Moughalian, Eve Beglarian, and Kevork Mourad. “These two New York based Armenian artists and I share aspects of our family histories,” said Moughalian. “All of us being the descendants of people who were displaced, and then went on to create vibrant new lives.”

Dark Eyes/New Eyes incorporates a wide range of Armenian music—very old and very new. The program traces the arc of a life, from beginnings in a mountainous Armenian village, spending youth in a city learning an ancient art form, desolation, recovery, and regenerating in a new place. “Dark Eyes/New Eyes honors our ancestors and our friends—those who have passed into the great beyond but have left with us the gifts of their art and their spirits,” added Moughalian.

Syrian-born artist Kevork Mourad will paint live on-stage during Dark Eyes/New Eyes. After getting his master’s from Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia, Mourad got the idea to combine visual art with his love of music. He has worked with many world-class musicians using his technique of spontaneous painting.

On February 28, Moughalian will present a public clinic at Berklee. For more information, visit Berklee.edu/events/music-armenia.

The Dark Eyes/New Eyes program is cocurated by Moughalian, Mourad, and Karam. The Signature Music Series at Berklee embraces the college’s global community and Boston’s diverse musical tastes.