Hasmik Harutyunyan was born in 1960 in Yerevan. Her ancestors were from the province of Moush in Historic Armenia. She graduated from the Department of Vocal Music at the Arno Babajanian School of Music and the Yerevan State Pedagogical Institute. For several years, she worked as a soloist for the Agoonk Ensemble of Armenian National Radio. Hasmik was a soloist on the Music of Armenia folk music recording, performing with the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble. Her voice is also included on Armenia Anthology, Shoghaken’s award-winning CD released in 2002 by Traditional Crossroads. She has performed in concerts in Armenia and Europe, and traveled with Shoghaken to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 2002 Folklife Festival organized by renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma. Hasmik also participated with several members of the Harutyunyan family in recording two albums of traditional Armenian folk music for Face Music in Switzerland. MP3 samples from Ensemble Karot, Vol. 1, can be found on the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble page. Another recording, Ensemble Karot, Vol. 2, was released in 2004.
In Armenia, Hasmik Harutyunyan is known for her deeply touching renditions of the Armenian lullaby, often broadcast on Armenian National Radio or performed by Hasmik in concerts and at traditional music festivals and ceremonies. In Armenian Lullabies, a CD released in February 2004 by Traditional Crossroads, Hasmik sings a cappella and accompanied by the musicians of Shoghaken in a collection of lullabies from the provinces of Historic Armenia, including Taron, Kharpert, Vaspourakan, Armenian Cilicia, Tikranakert, and Eastern Armenia. Included on the CD is Parsegh Kanachian’s “Koon Yeghir Balas,” recorded for the first time with traditional Armenian folk instruments. Four sample MP3s from the new CD and several review excerpts can be found below. To order Armenian Lullabies, go to Traditional Crossroads or, in Armenia, contact this website’s author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Hasmik, music is life itself — its happiness, sadness, and struggle. She feels it is her responsibility to keep traditional Armenian music alive, and to keep it free from foreign influence. She believes Armenian music is a living thing, not meant for history books.
Hasmik still draws strength and inspiration from her ancestors — especially her grandmother, who sang to her when she was a child. Another great influence was her teacher, Hayrik Mouradian, the late folklore singer and historian from Shatakh, near Lake Van. In Hayrik’s honor, and to carry on his important work, she established the Hayrik Mouradian Children’s Folk Song and Dance Ensemble.
In 2006, Albi’s Face Music released a CD of traditional Armenian children’s folk songs. The recording includes thirty-seven samples of children’s songs from different regions of Historic Armenia, several of which were written by Komitas.
You can read more about Hasmik elsewhere on this site. Her love of music, her people, and her homeland is evident in the sound of her
voice. Wherever she is, wherever she happens to be, when she sings,
people stop to listen. Instinctively, they are drawn to the past, because
the past is a part of who they are. Through her music, the collective
memory of what it means to be Armenian resurfaces, reminding
everyone of home. This is what she strives for, and what she works
so hard to achieve.
Hasmik may be reached at email@example.com.
Visitors with Facebook accounts can also find Hasmik
here and here.
To read a feature story about Hasmik, her background, and her thoughts
about traditional folk music, click here.
Article by Lilit Nurijanyan on Hetq.am. Also available in Armenian.
BLACK SEA MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL
In October 2012, Hasmik participated in the first Black Sea Music and Arts Festival at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, Turkey. The group included Shoghaken musicians Karine Hovhannisyan, Vardan Baghdasaryan, and Levon Tevanyan. During the festival, a symposium about cultural exchange between Black Sea countries was held.
Meritorious Artist of Armenia
Received May 28, 2010, during ceremonies
at the President’s residence in Yerevan.
Enchanting Voice of Armenia
Received April 18, 2010, at the annual
Tashir Armenian Music Awards in Moscow.
THE KITKA ENSEMBLE
In October 2010, the Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble traveled to Armenia to deepen their study of Armenian folk singing traditions, by way of engaging in village expeditions and joint field work with students and professors from the Komitas State Conservatory and members of the Shoghaken Ensemble.
Also, during their stay in Armenia, Kitka performed in a concert
with Shoghaken. The program included Armenian lullabies, wedding songs,
songs of longing, and songs transcribed by Komitas, as well as Balkan,
Greek, and Georgian songs. The concert took place at the Komitas State
Conservatory in Yerevan.
LULLABY AND FOLK DANCE WORKSHOP IN LJUBLJANA
On March 13-14, 2010, following the Shoghaken Ensemble concert in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Hasmik presented a two-day workshop of Armenian folk song and dance for the Emanat Institute, a newly-formed institute for the affirmation and development of dance art.
The workshop was arranged by Irena Tomazin and coordinated by Sabina Potocki and Maja Delak, director of the institute, in collaboration with Cankarjev home, Spanish fighters and City of Women. Participants included professional and non-professional singers, dancers, and actors. During the course of the workshop, participants were taught several Armenian lullabies, children’s songs, and folk dances from different regions throughout historic Armenia.
Comments by Workshop Participants
...one of the most beautiful things that can happen — to get a gift from a song,
a song gift from Hasmik — Armenian Lullabies... amazing work session!
So many beautiful feelings, great energy, and touching the world
of amazing armenian folk songs and dances! I’m so grateful for that great experience!...
THE KITKA ENSEMBLE
After the completion of each concert or concert tour, the most lasting impressions are of the people I meet, become acquainted with, and who become friends. Sometimes, a meeting can be the beginning of new ideas and creations. One such was with Shira Cion, who introduced me to the Kitka Ensemble, which was a real discovery. Because we are doing the same work, I am happy to have the opportunity to teach my people’s folk songs to the group in a series of workshops and concerts planned for 2008-2009, thus preserving and presenting the music of our ancestors. — Hasmik Harutyunyan
In November 2009, Hasmik’s collaboration with the Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble reached fruition with concerts in San Francisco, Oakland, and Fresno, California. Titled “Armenian Lullabies and Songs of Longing,” the concerts included the music of Komitas and two of his students, Parsegh Ganachian and Mihran Toumajan, traditional Armenian lullabies and work songs,
folk songs collected by Hayrik Mouradian, and a presentation of segments from a traditional Armenian wedding.
Following the concerts, Hasmik and Kitka took part in the San Francisco World Music Festival, conducting an assembly for the children
of the Alice Fong Yu Alternative School and a special presentation at the Krouzian Zekarian Vasbouragan School of San Francisco. At the Armenian school, children were taught and then performed several songs and dances, the youngest in the school singing lullabies, while the older children performed several folk dances and sang “Ayb, ben, gim,” a song that teaches children the Armenian alphabet, and “Hayr Mer,” the latter
written in 1915 by Komitas.
On March 1, 2011, as part of the Holocaust and Genocide Lecture Series at Sonoma State University, Hasmik gave a lecture titled “The Armenian Lullaby and Folk Traditions.” During the program, Hasmik and Kitka presented Armenian lullabies, laments, songs of Komitas, and Armenian folk dances. At Congregation Ner Shalom in nearby Cotati later that evening, Hasmik and Kikta performed Armenian and Georgian folk songs for a receptive North Bay audience. The concert included material gathered during Kitka’s recent trip to the Caucasus. On March 13, Hasmik conducted a workshop of traditional Armenian folk songs and dances at the Kitka offices in Oakland, California.
2011 Holocaust and Genocide Lecture Series – March 1, 2011
To listen to “Armenian Lullabies and Songs of Longing,” a musical special featuring an interview
with Hasmik and Shira Cion broadcast December 27, 2009, on KUSP in Santa Cruz, California, click here.
Radio program hosted by Robert Pollie as part of The 7th Avenue Project.
To listen to a radio interview on the “New America Now” program at KALW in San Francisco about Armenian lullabies
and Hasmik’s work with the Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble, click here.
To read an article in Hye Sharzhoom about the concert held at Fresno State University, click here.
GIVING VOICE FESTIVAL
On April 19, 2009, at the “Giving Voice” festival in Wroclaw, Poland, Hasmik presented a concert of traditional Armenian lullabies, including songs from her Armenian Lullabies CD and newly-discovered lullabies from Moush, Musa Ler, and Nakhichevan. Hasmik was accompanied by blul, shvi, and duduk player Norayr Kartashyan, also of Yerevan. During the course of the festival, Hasmik taught Armenian folk songs and dances, as well as participating in a concert of female festival participants, in which she sang “Gorani,” “Nani Bala,” and “Arnos,” an epic lullaby from Vaspurakan, which she learned from her teacher, Hayrik Mouradian.
Hasmik’s voice is addictive to say the least, and one doesn’t want her to stop singing until you enter the sweet world of dreams. It’s as if she tried to put the baby Jesus to sleep, and in attempting to do so transported every audience member to her homeland of Armenia. Throughout the performance, listening to her voice, I had a strange desire to be a child again and lie in her arms. The angels above the altar came to life and were flying around in the space, enjoying the sounds of this incredible singer.
— Robert Klarmann, workshop participant and concert attendee
To read an article about Hasmik’s participation in the festival, click here.
To read an Armenian-language interview in Azatamtuyun about Hasmik’s participation
in the “Giving Voice” festival and about culture in Armenia, click here.
Armenian Lullabies — Sample MP3 Recordings
Agna Oror Koon Yeghir Balas Nani Bala Nazei Oror
“Agna Oror,” by Komitas. Sung by Hasmik Harutyunyan. Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ5NAXT9pLs
“Talishi Oror,” sung by Hasmik Harutyunyan at Theatre de la Ville, Paris. Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HRflFJXju0
Purity and a haunted, resolute stillness pervade Hasmik Harutyunyan’s Armenian Lullabies. The words to the songs are about rocking a child to sleep, but the music barely sways. Ms. Harutyunyan sustains the almost glacial melodies in a voice both kindly and doleful, and for most of the album, she is accompanied by only an instrument or two; there are long stretches that her voice shares with only one unchanging note from a reed flute. The effect is so intimate and timeless, it’s hard to imagine the dreams of the child listening.
— John Pareles, The New York Times
Forget the don’t-you-cry stuff. [Armenian Lullabies] may be one of the very few albums to contain a lullaby based on an incident of genocide, and it’s a surpassingly beautiful tune, with a serenity that stems as much from heart-sore resignation as from a desire to get that wee one to sleep. Armenian women in the villages where most of these tunes were gathered had hard lives and little freedom, a condition that makes many of these folk lullabies sound like the night’s bitter farewell to the privations of the day. Harutyunyan’s voice has an earthy purity that’s just right for this music, which often unfolds against little more than a wheezing flute introduction and a hushed drone.
— R. E.G., The Globe and Mail
Singer Hasmik Harutyunyan [opens Armenian Lullabies] with one of the most arresting, incandescent vocal performances of recent years, a voice, like Cesaria Evora or Marta Sebestyens, that stops you in your tracks and makes you catch your breath.
— Patrick Rapa, Philadelphia City Paper
You can hear more of Harutyunyan’s clear-as-the-wind vocals as she plays mother on Shoghaken’s 2004 Armenian Lullabies, another collection of historic tunes named after villages and provinces such as Sassun and Kessab. With minimal backing — usually the dham duduk, which holds the drone in the background — she repeats the word “oror” (to rock) with language-defying stillness and comfort, turning these somber songs about the hardships of mothering into aural blankets.
— Siran Babyan, LA Weekly
[Armenian Lullabies] is a singular collection, full of emotion, dignity, and grace, offered intimately and without the trappings of field recordings or the dryness of museum-quality interpretations. These songs are alive, full of breath and quiet drama.
— Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
One of Shoghaken’s most striking musicians performed on the most elemental instrument. Hasmik Harutyunyan sang centuries-old village lullabies unaccompanied. Her phrasing was sublime.
— Aaron Cohen, The Chicago Tribune
Hasmik Harutyunyan can rival any of the musical divas of the Balkans and Eastern Europe . . . she expresses grace, beauty, unique stylizations and a poetic lyricism with her voice.
— Erika Borsos, Amazon.com review
The vocalists are all superb, especially Hasmik Harutyunyan; her “Kessabi Lullaby,” which closes the [Ensemble Karot, Vol.1] disc, is especially striking.
— Green Man Review
“Gorani,” sung by Hasmik Harutyunyan at Theatre de la Ville, Paris. Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnSzJvANGjE
To read Satenik Azatyan’s Armenian-language interview with Hasmik
published in Capital Daily, click here.
To read Gayane Mkrtchyan’s Armenian-language interview with Hasmik
published in Azatamtutyun, click here.
Hasmik discusses the importance of lullabies and what they teach about nature, history,
and love of country in this article at 168 Hours Online Weekly.
(In Armenian. Language support available.)
To read about Hasmik’s participation in Shoghaken’s 2004 concert tour of the U.S., click here.
(Also contains video and audio links)
To read about Hasmik’s participation in the “Armenian Culture Days” event held
December 12-17, 2004, in Sharja, United Arab Emirates, click here.
To read about Hasmik’s participation in Estonia’s July 2003 Viljandi Folk Festival, click here.
To read my translation of a piece written by Hasmik about “Kanche Kroonk,” one of Armenia’s most-loved folk songs, click here.
Other Sample MP3 Recordings
Performed by Hasmik Harutyunyan
Music of Armenia
Performed by Hasmik Harutyunyan
Music of Armenia
Performed by Hasmik Harutyunyan
with nephews Haiko and Aram
Aghpyur Children’s Journal About the Author Recommended Links News and Updates
The Humor of Armenia Scenes and Observations E-mail Your Comments