AGBU’s Musical Armenia Program’s (MAP) second annual season took place between July 15-August 3. Seven talented Diasporan Armenians from Bulgaria, Canada and the USA journeyed to their homeland to benefit from the unique opportunity offered by AGBU: spend three weeks in Armenia, participate in training and master classes, attend different cultural events and, at the end of program, perform in their own Gala Concert. The program is designed for people age 18 and above, with some musical knowledge, who are skilled at vocals or playing an instrument, with a desire to expand their musical horizons, and doing it all in their homeland. Participants this year specialized in composition, French horn, harp, percussion, viola, violin and vocals. The intense three-week program included joint classes and one-on-one master classes given by professionals: Anna Mayilyan, Tovmas Poghosyan, Armen Tutunjyan, Alina Pahlevanyan, Gagik Ginosyan, Mher Navoyan, Bagrat Vardanyan, Alexander Kosemyan, Arthur Shahnazaryan, Arusyak Sahakyan and Aram Hovannisyan. New York-based AGBU Performing Arts Department Artistic Director Hayk Arsenyan was in Yerevan and lectured on Armenian composers of the Ottoman Empire. In addition to classes, the participants enjoyed concerts, sightseeing, museums, met famous musicians and artists, socialized with many of their talented peers. Toronto native Shaghig Amy Kazandjian, plays the French horn and is part of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. Upon learning about MAP, she immediately decided to participate. Her experience surpassed all her expectations. She was invited by Armenia’s A. Spendiaryan Opera and Ballet National Academic Theater Symphonic Orchestra to perform with them in Romeo and Juliet and La Traviata. Shaghig also developed her vocal skills by taking individual classes with Anna Mayilyan. “I am very happy that AGBU’s Musical Armenia Program is being implemented and am very grateful to be part of it. It is already my second summer working with this project,” said Mayilyan. Shaghig was not the only one who was honored to perform with famous musicians. Andrea Godoshian, a composer and a percussionist, performed at the popular Aragast Café with Armen ‘Chico’ Tutunjyan and other well-known jazz musicians. “I realized throughout the summer that some of the only documentation we have of our musical heritage is archived in Armenia’s wonderful museums. At the same time, I realized that it is up to us Armenian artists to bring those pieces to life as only music can,” said Stepan Atamian, vocalist and MAP 2013 participant. MAP participants worked with El Sistema, an international cultural network founded in 1975 in Venezuela. El Sistema’s mission is to transform children’s lives through music. Sistema-Armenia aims to provide valuable skills, strengthen communities and promote cultural engagement through music education. One year ago Sistema-Armenia designated Talin’s Music School as its first regional center. It was there that MAP 2013 participants and organizers spent a day sharing experiences with students at the Music School, and performing an impromptu concert with them. “During the time we spent at the Talin school, we got to the heart of the MAP mission: to bring Armenians from around the world closer to the country's culture and arts. Watching the students collaborate, it became clear we accomplished that goal. They were inspired by everything they learned from the children of Talin, and are sure to take the experience with them when they return home and move forward in their careers,” said AGBU Performing Arts Department Artistic Director Hayk Arsenyan. After attending the concert performance by opera star Hasmik Papyan and Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra Eduard Topchjan, MAP participants had an unforgettable meeting with them backstage. All MAP participants were invited to participate in the Gyumri Renaissance International Festival in 2014 by Festival Director Karine Avdalyan. MAP participants’ talent was heard by all at the August 3 Gala Concert at the Aram Khachaturian House-Museum. During the concert, works by Khachaturian, Komitas and Spendiaryan were performed. As a program finale, MAP musicians performed participant Andrea Godoshian’s piece, created especially for this concert while in Armenia. Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Central Board Member, who envisioned Musical Armenia as a unique way to support the talented youth of the Diaspora through culture and education in Armenia while strengthening their ties with the homeland, presented the seven musicians with certificates of completion from AGBU.






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