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Armenian Music Comes to Berklee College

The Sayat Nova Folk Dance Ensemble performs at Berklee's Armenian Festival
The Sayat Nova Folk Dance Ensemble performs at Berklee's Armenian Festival
Berklee College of Music

No one has ever accused Berklee College of Music, Boston's innovative and creative educational facility for contemporary music, of presenting standard concerts. The school, which offers among other courses, study in music business and management, songwriting, and film scoring, will present the Music of Armenia in a March 3 concert at the Berklee Performance Center.

The 6th annual Middle Eastern Festival in the school's Signature Music Series at Berklee will feature Perspectives Ensemble directed by flutist Sato Moughalian, presenting Dark Eyes/New Eyes, with a cappella folk trio Zulal and live painting by Kevork Mourad. Special guests include Ludo Mlado and acclaimed Armenian folk singer Aleksan Harutyunyan.

The concert will also feature music from neighborng regions, including a set of Bulgarian music with Berklee's Pletenitsa Choir, the Ludo Mlado Dance Ensemble, the Sayat Nova Folk Dance Ensemble, and the Berklee World Strings directed by Eugene Friesen.

The festival brings visiting artists from the Middle East and the Mediterranean togeher with students to experience the musical traditions of the regions, in past years highlighting Flamenco, Balkan, Turkish, Lebanese, and Palestinian music. Festival founder and director Christiane Karam, who is assistant professor of voice at Berklee, chose armenia this time because she is part armenian. "My grandparents were exiled in 1915 and my mother was born in Beirut," said Karam. "It was important to me to go back to my roots and tell the story of the people and the culture through their music."

Perspectives Ensemble was founded in 1993 by its artistic director Moughalia. The ensemble presents the works of composers in cultural context with thematic programs on subjects that bridge the visual, musical, and literary arts. Dark Eyes/New Eyes had its genesis in the friendship and collaboration that developed between Moughalian, Eve Beglarian, and Kevork Mourad. "These two New York based Armenian artists and I share aspects of our family histories," said Moughalian. "All of us being the descendants of people who were displaced, and then went on to create vibrant new lives."

Dark Eyes/New Eyes incorporates a wide range of Armenian music, very old and very new. The program traces the arc of a life, from beginnings in a mountainous Armenian village, spending youth in a city learning an ancient art form, desolation, recovery and regenerating in a new place. "Dark Eyes/New Eyes honors our ancestors and our friends -- those who have passed into the great beyond but have left with us the gifts of their art and their spirits," added Moughalian.

Syrian-born artist Kevork Mourad will paint live onstage during Dark Eyes/New Eyes. After gettinghis master's degree from Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia, Mourad got the idea to combine visual art with his love of music. He has worked with many world class musicians using his technique of spontaneour painting. On February 28, Moughalian and Zulal will present a public clinic at Berklee. For more invormation, visit Berklee.ecu/events/music-armenia.

The Music of Armenia takes place Monday, March 3 at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Reserved seating tickets are available for $8 in advance, $12 the day of the show, at The venue is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call the BPC at 617-747-2261.

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