Shoghaken at Carnegie Hall
Shoghaken members at the Jeffrey Acopian home in Easton, Pennsylvania [click to enlarge] An invitation to perform January 26, 2008, at Zankel Hall, the World Music venue at New York’s renowned Carnegie Hall, blossomed into Shoghaken Folk Ensemble’s second nationwide tour of the United States and Canada. The twenty-four city tour, which included nineteen concerts and a number of well-attended workshops, was organized by Harold Hagopian, founder of the prize-winning independent Traditional Crossroads recording label. The tour coincided with Shoghaken’s newest Traditional Crossroads CD release, Shoghaken Ensemble: Music from Armenia.

Beginning on January 18, the eight-member ensemble performed for Canadian, American, and Armenian audiences in Montreal, Toronto, Boston, and New York; at the prestigious Kimmel Center in Philadelphia; the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; Lafayette College in Pennsylvania; and for the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. The tour, which also included stops in Detroit, Fresno, Berkeley, and Portland Maine, ended on March 2 in San Francisco with a sellout performance sponsored by the local chapter of Hamazgayin. Combined attendance for the events was well in excess of 10,000 people.

Shoghaken Ensemble: Music from Armenia [click to enlarge] Shoghaken’s concert program featured songs and dances from the group’s new CD, as well as selections from dudukist Gevorg Dabaghyan’s Lost Songs From Eden and Karine Hovhannisyan’s Classical Music from the Armenian Kanun, both released by Traditional Crossroads.

The concerts were embellished by samples of the improvisational art of the Armenian mugham, which was beautifully demonstrated in vocalist Aleksan Harutyunyan’s “Aygeban” and at the beginning of “Angin Yars,” where mugham selections were presented by Vardan Baghdasaryan on kamancha, Gevorg Dabaghyan on duduk, and Levon Tevanyan on blul.

Shoghaken gathering at La Jolla, California [click to enlarge] The moving performance of “Butanya Krunk” and the lullaby “Butanya Oror” by vocalist Hasmik Harutyunyan also introduced two songs recorded by Mihran Tumajan, a student of Komitas. Shoghaken also played two dances recorded by Komitas and never before presented using traditional instruments: “Shushiki,” from Erzurum, and “Unabi/Marali,” from Shushi, Karabagh. Other crowd favorites included Aleksan Harutyunyan’s “Kamancha,” Karine Hovhannisyan’s “Shalakho,” and the raucous “Lelum Lele” and “Yarkhusta” from Moush and Sassoun, as well as “Jakhraki Votk/Done Yar,” from Shatakh and Moush.

During Shoghaken’s stay in North America, group members were entertained at the United Nations in New York by Armenia’s UN representative, Armen Martirosyan. They were later greeted at a reception held at the Armenian Embassy in Washington, D.C., hosted by Ambassador Tatul Margaryan and Embassy staff. Armenian communities in Ithaca, New York, Berkeley, Washington, D.C., Easton, Pennsylvania, and Montreal also held events and receptions for the ensemble. Between concerts, Shoghaken members enjoyed visits to Niagara Falls and art museums in Philadelphia and Worcester.

For more information about Shoghaken and a video link to their performance at the Kennedy Center, click here.
(Video link requires high speed Internet access.)

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Hasmik Harutunyan
Karine Hovhannisyan
at Carnegie Hall
(63k)

Shoghaken
at Armenian Embassy
(49k)

Hasmik Harutyunyan
Karine Hovhannisyan
Jeffrey Acopian Family
at Lafayette College
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Shoghaken members
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Madison, Wisconsin
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Shoghaken
at Armenian Church
Worcester, Mass.
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