On Sunday, March 1, world-famous visual performance artist, Kevork Mourad, joined the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Armenian Chamber Ensemble for a concert at the University of Rhode Island.
The concert began at 3 p.m. in the Concert Hall at the Fine Arts Center, and was conducted by Gene Pollart and graduate conducting assistant Charles Kalajian. To begin, the New England seven-member Armenian Chamber Ensemble performed traditional folk music. Their small ensemble included Leon Janikian on clarinet, Mal Barsamian on oud, Kenneth Kalajian on guitar, Charles Kalajian on dumbek, Dalita Getzoyan on flute, and John Kalajian on the cello. The ensemble performed “Groong” by Gomidas Vartabed, “Lullaby” by Aram Khachaturian, and “Spring” by Robert Marashlian. They finished with the “Traditional Armenian Folk Song”.
“The music of the immigrant population flourished not as an organized art form, but as it always had been practiced, extemporaneously, for the enjoyment of family and friends,” Leon Janikian, member Armenian Chamber Ensemble said.
Next, URI’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble played pieces “Fernery” by John Estacio, “Amazing Grace” by Frank Ticheli, and the four-part piece “Puszta” by Jan Van der Roost. Their fourth song, “Windchimes for 1915”, composed by Kenneth Kalajian, was world premiered, and conducted by Kenneth’s son, Charles.
“”It is an honor to have the Symphonic Wind Ensemble perform the world premier of my piece, Wind Chimes for 1915,” Kenneth said. “Just as the wind is eternal, it gently breaks the darkness of the past and forever propels the memory of our ancestors.” To end their show, Charles conducted “Armenian Dances (Part 1)” by Alfred Reed.
Throughout the entirety of the performance, Mourad painted, and his work was projected onto a screen. His work will later be featured in the Fine Arts Gallery.
Mourad is a teaching member of Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and has collections of his work in galleries and museums around the world. He is best known for his spontaneous painting in collaboration with live ensembles. He has performed in places such as the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the UNAM Chess Festival in Mexico City, Le Festival du Monde Arabe in MontrÃ©al, the Stillwater Festival, Harvard University, the American Museum of Natural History and the Rhode Island School of Design,. He has also performed at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Art in Yerevan, and in Central Park’s Summerstage with the Silk Road Ensemble and Bobby McFerrin.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey when Ottoman authorities killed up to 1.5 million Armenians. Between 1915 and 1918, men were arrested or killed, and women and children died during forced marches to the Syrian desert. Pauline Getzoyan, of Lincoln, R.I., and Kenneth’s wife, Esther, will be teaching an honors seminar at URI about Armenian history and had approached the music department about having a commemoration concert.
“Between the musical performance and the art work, everything was so beautiful and I was so happy that I attended,” Ashley Frezza, URI junior Music minor in Vocal Performance student said. “This was such a special concert with really unique music.”