This Armenian ensemble led by pianist Levon Eskenian was formed 2018, in order to revitalize the region’s rich folk tradition as heard in songs famously collected and transcribed by Georges I. Gurdjieff and Komitas, presenting them on period instruments with a mixture of bracing beauty and devastating sorrow.
Gurdjieff Ensemble: “Zartir”
When Lebanese-born Armenian pianist and composer Levon Eskenian founded the Gurdjieff Ensemble in 2008 his aim was to conjure the sound and spirit of the Caucasian and Central Asian folk and religious music famously collected by Georges I. Gurdjieff and transcribed for piano by Russian pianist Thomas de Hartmann. The music on the group’s 2011 debut album “Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff” was performed on traditional folk instruments of the region, such as the duduk, the double-reed instrument made from apricot wood made famous by Djivan Gasparyan, the kamancha, a spike fiddle, the tar, a long-necked lute, the oud and various percussion instruments. The stately performances sought to capture the way these sorrowful melodies were played centuries ago. Eskenian enlarged the ensemble’s repertoire for its second album “Komitas” in 2015, turning his attention to compositions credited to priest, scholar and ethnomusicologist, Soghomon Soghomonian, better known as Komitas, who transcribed thousands of Armenian folk songs starting in the late 19th century until the Armenian genocide of 1915, which resulted in a brief imprisonment and a trauma that crushed his desire to work further. This evening’s programme will include material from both recording projects, preserving and celebrating a ravishing sound in danger of extinction.
Levon Eskenian arranger, artistic director
Gagik Hakobyan duduk, pku, zurna
Norayr Gapoyan duduk, bass duduk
Armen Ayvazyan kamancha
Avag Margaryan pogh, zurna
Aram Nikoghosyan oud
Meri Vardanyan kanon
Davit Avagyan sar
Vladimir Papikyan santur, vocals
Mesrop Khalatyan dap, dhol