Yukinori Kinoshita, a young Japanese pianist, studying in the United States, had learnt about the legacy of Komitas only three months before deciding to visit the Master’s homeland. Following extensive research he realized that the best way to discover Armenia and Armenian culture for a beginner musician was to participate in the AGBU’s Musical Armenia Program (MAP). He registered immediately and together with the other nine participants of this year’s Musical Armenia program arrived in Yerevan in June, thus breaking with tradition and becoming the first non-Armenian participant in the history of the program. Since the inception of the program, AGBU’s aim was to provide an opportunity for Armenians and foreign musicals and artists alike to discover one of the world’s most ancient cultures and its music.

“I learnt about this program through my Armenian friend. This is a unique opportunity to understand Armenian culture. The program offers highly qualified teaching materials and a number of interesting lectures. I am planning to present this program to my friends living in the United States and Japan. I am sure that a great number of people will be interested in participating. Yerevan is a unique city and if the opportunity arises I will definitely return one day.”, said Yukinori.

The 4th Musical Armenia Program brought together 10 talented musicians from the USA, Canada, France, Syria and Lebanon. The three-week program included individual master classes and group lectures given by renowned professionals, various cultural events and sightseeing. This year’s program took place between July 14- August 3, 2015 with participants playing the violin, flute, piano, trumpet, alt, as well as specializing in vocals and conducting skills.

Joint classes and individual master classes were given by such renowned artists as Karen Durgaryan, Armen Tutunjyan, Yervand Margaryan, Never Navoyan, Bagrat Vardanyan, Tovmas Poghosyan, Lusine Grigoryan, Arusyak Sahakyan, Arthur Shahnazaryan, Arman Abrahamyan, Hayk Arsenyan. “This is not an ordinary, traditional school, where students only strive to excel at their instrument. This is the type of musical education that builds character, personality and self improvement and maybe even allows for solutions to personal problems through music. I’m inspired when teaching these students and very much appreciate the significance of this particular program. If only one or two students return to their roots, their identity and feel a closer connection to their homeland then I would consider this a successful program.” , said RA honored artist, Mher Navoyan.

The aims of MAP are to develop performance skills of the young musicians, knowledge of the history of the Armenian music, as well as allowing them to learn and promulgate Armenian music. Participants of the program also had the profoundly impressive experience of sitting in on the rehearsals of the “Sayat Nova” Ashough (troubadour) song ensemble, headed by Tovmas Poghosyan. Most had never heard a live performance of the kamancha, tar and saz (traditional Armenian instruments). Among the most memorable events was the concert and presentation of a new CD, entitled “Citizen” by cellist Artyom Manukyan, from the United States.

Trumpet player, Raffi Elmajian from Lebanon had last visited Armenian 15 years ago. However he didn’t’ have to wait as long for his next trip as only two weeks after the completion of the program he returned to Armenian bringing with him 14 members of his family.

“I travel a lot, but I always miss Lebanon. I love Lebanon very much. This is my first visit that made me think of leaving Lebanon and settling here or at least having our little place in Armenia”,said Raffi.

Jasper Moss, Gaspar Musakhanyan from Canada aspires to become a renowned conductor and thanks to the AGBU Musical Armenia Program he had the unique opportunity to work with Karen Durgaryan and even led the Symphonic Orchestra of Armenia during his time with MAP.

“We’ve had this experience in sport where with the help of a similar program we now have very successful athletes that we can be proud of and now thanks to the AGBU, we have a comparable program for our young musicians. They are able to come to Armenia, attend lectures and master classes, visit the Opera and probably most beautifully unique and memorable for them, give their own concern to both the general public and their teachers”, said Bagrat Vardanyan, professor at Yerevan State Conservatory.

A Gala Concert by the participants of MAP at the Aram Khachaturian House-Museum on August 1st brought the Musical Armenia Program to a close. The program included pieces by Komitas, Aram Khachaturian, Haydn, Chopin, Bize, Max Reger and Kenny Dorham. Following the concert, Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Central Board Member and the initiator of MAP awarded certificates to each participant.

In his speech, Mr. Yacoubian thanked all the professors who spared neither effort nor time to make these three weeks memorable for MAP students. “Musical Armenia Program” joined AGBU’s Diaspora youth programs in 2012. This annual program is open for students aged 18 and above, who play a musical instrument or have vocal abilities, with primary musical education and who desire to gain new experience and knowledge in the Homeland. Since its establishment the AGBU Musical Armenia Program has hosted over 40 talented young men and women from around the world. Some of them have returned to Armenia and continue to work in their creative fields.







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