Yeranuhi Soghoyan

An Interactive Experience: Gyumri Devotes an Evening to Komitas Vartapet and His Work

Noting that Armenians only experience Komitas once a year, on the April 24 anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, Vahe Begoyan, the artistic director of the Saghmosergou Spiritual Music male choir, said that much more needs to be done to spread the word about prominent composer, musicologist and founder of contemporary Armenian classical music.

To that end, and to bring Komitas out of the museum setting, an evening dedicated to the famous composer and his work took place in Gyumri on October 14, organized by the Gyumri Loft Self-Development and Entertainment Center.

AmalyaToumasyan, the center’s director, said that the evening was to fill a cultural gap that exists in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city.

Toumasyan said they wanted to create an interactive experience, via lectures, music and painting, to promote the works of Komitas.

“Those who participated were from different age groups, which signifies that there is a desire in Gyumri to listen to the music of Komitas, even by those who have never heard of him,” Toumasyan told Hetq.

Those who spoke about Komitas that evening included Vahe Begoyan, Armen Hovhannisyan (the founder and a soloist of the Aratta ethno-jazz ban), and Ani Navasardyan (director of the Young Singers of Armenia choir).

The works of Gyumri artists were also on exhibit. Pupils of the Magic Stick studio, linked to the Byron School, also presented their art works.

While Vahe Begoyan agrees that some steps are being taken to promote the works of Komitas, including those taken by his choir and the Komitas Museum-Institute in Yerevan, he says that the country’s academic institutes and academies must also get involved.

Conductor HovhannesHovhannisyan, a Meritorious Artist of Armenia and a member of the Gyumri Dramatic Theatre, noted that the spread of rabiz music in Armenia is because many aren’t aware of his music.

“There’s always been a shortage of Komitas, and one of the reasons is because rabiz has entered our blood stream and won’t go away. Even a blood transfusion is powerless,” Hovhannisyan said, adding that he is pained that Armenian playwrights generally neglect Komitas the man and his works.