A new program was added to the AGBU’s Diaspora youth programs carried out in Armenia in 2012. AGBU “Musical Armenia” program (MAP) aims at bringing young and talented Armenian musicians from around the world to their homeland to become closer acquainted with their musical heritage offering a unique opportunity to attend specialized lectures, take individual master classes with the best specialists in Armenia and improve their knowledge and skills. In MAP’s pilot year, a select group of young artists got the chance to train and perform with renowned musicians in Armenia including Anna Mayilyan, Tovmas Poghossian, Armen Toutounjian, Gagik Ginosya, Alina Pahlevanyan, Araks Saryan, Eduard Topchjan, Mher Navoyan and others. Collaborating with top Armenian artists was just one of the many exciting activities that MAP has to offer. Launched this summer, MAP brought together a group of 9 talented young composers, flutists, pianists, vocalists and violinists, from as far away as Greece, Syria, and the USA, in their homeland of Armenia. From July 14 to August 4, the participants, together with Wanes Moubayed, a violinist and the conductor of the AGBU AYA Aleppo Gomidas Chamber Orchestra, and MAP artistic coordinator Levon Eskenian, discovered their musical heritage. Eskenian discussed the program’s many benefits, explaining, “MAP gave participants the chance to gain basic knowledge of every aspect of Armenian music, from ancient Armenian work music, lullabies, ploughing songs, ashoughs music, the Armenian epic, medieval spiritual music, ethnic dance music and songs to classical Armenian music composed by Komitas, Aram Khachaturian and living Armenian composers. For every Armenian musician, this knowledge is as essential as the Armenian language. The enthusiasm and the great interest of the participants inspires us and gives hope of passing the knowledge within diaspora communities, a rare opportunity that diasporan musicians didn’t have until this program.” MAP students attended lectures and classes with experts in the field, visited local institutions such as the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and Sayat Nova Music School, and toured the country’s historic landmarks. “MAP is yet another bridge that AGBU has built between Armenian diasporan youth and their homeland. Music is a powerful means to bring individuals closer to their roots, and we proudly watched this year’s MAP participants discover a newfound love for both Armenian music and their country”, said AGBU Performing Arts Department Artistic Director Hayk Arsenyan. When they were not in the audience at various concerts, the musicians took the stage themselves. Pianist Shoushy Nakashian and violinist David Melkonian performed in “Im Hayasdan” (“My Armenia”) festival held by the Diaspora Ministry. Melkonian, who is from Syria, described his positive experience with MAP, stating, “I was so pleased to have the opportunity to perform in my homeland and so fortunate to have this invaluable summer experience. I benefited immensely from my instructors, and loved making new friends from various countries in charming Yerevan. I only wish that the days hadn’t passed so quickly and hope that I will have the chance to meet this fantastic group in Armenia again in the future.” Until then, he and all of this year’s MAP participants will look back on the great memory of performing together at their grand finale concert on August 3, where they played side by side with the teachers from whom they learned so much.



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