News and Updates
Each day, “Road to Armenia” welcomes visitors from a long list of countries around the world. They seek history, information, music, culture. They want to know what Armenia is, where it is, where it has been, and what it stands for. What they learn is that Armenia, even in these difficult times, is full of light and life. No one living here can ignore the improvements that need to be made. But living here is also our contract with the future, our children’s future, and the future of this great nation. That is what I hope this site reflects. There are many things we have planned that will add to the overall picture of what life in Armenia is really like. When they are added to the site, I will mention them here. Thank you for visiting. I hope you will return often, and tell others about what you have found.
Haghbat Monastery - Lori Region As part of the Holocaust and Genocide Lecture Series
at Sonoma State University on March 1, 2011, Hasmik Harutyunyan gave a lecture titled “The Armenian Lullaby and Folk Traditions.” During the program, she presented Armenian lullabies, laments, songs of Komitas, and Armenian folk dances with Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble. Later that evening, at Congregation Ner Shalom in nearby Cotati, Hasmik and Kikta performed Armenian and Georgian folk songs for a receptive North Bay audience.

Later in the month, Shoghaken musicians Hasmik Harutyunyan, Aleksan Harutyunyan, Gevorg Dabaghyan, Vardan Baghdasaryan,
and Grigor Takushyan traveled to the Netherlands and Belgium
for a three-concert tour.

During ceremonies at the President’s residence on May 28, 2010, Hasmik Harutyunyan was awarded the title, “Meritorious Artist of Armenia.”

At the annual Tashir Armenian Music Awards, held April 18, 2010, in Moscow, Hasmik Harutyunyan was officially recognized as “Enchanting Voice of Armenia.” On March 13-14, following the Shoghaken Ensemble concert in Ljubljana, Slovenia, she 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.

In November 2009, Hasmik and the Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble performed concerts in San Francisco, Oakland, and Fresno, California, after which Hasmik participated in the San Francisco World Music Festival, organizing and leading assemblies at a Chinese immersion school and the Krouzian Zekarian Vasbouragan Armenian school of San Francisco. For pictures and more information, go here.

Several links to YouTube videos featuring Hasmik Harutyunyan have been added to her page. Songs include “Gorani” and “Talishi Oror” (both from Shoghaken’s performance at Theatre de la Ville in Paris, France), and “Agna Oror,” from the Lullabies of the World project. A link to a YouTube video featuring Hasmik and Aleksan Harutyunyan at the 2005 Concert at the Cascade in Yerevan was also added to the Shoghaken Ensemble page.

The Shoghaken Ensemble will perform concerts at the Vychodna Folk Festival in Vychodnda, Slovakia, from July 2-6, 2009.

Hasmik Harutyunyan will perform at the “Giving Voice” festival in Wroclaw, Poland, in April 2009. Hasmik will present a concert of Armenian lullabies, as well as workshops in the Armenian vocal tradition and Armenian folk dances.

Shoghaken’s Music from Armenia recording, produced by Traditional Crossroads of New York, was awarded as the Best Folk Music Album of 2008 at the National Music Awards presentation held on February 7 in Yerevan.

Yerevan Journal, which has been a part of Road to Armenia since 2003, will now continue as a separate blog. It can be found here.

A new CD by Shoghaken Ensemble has been released in New York by Traditional Crossroads. Music of Armenia is a journey through Historic Armenia that features stunning vocals and traditional instruments such as the duduk, kamancha, ud, kanon, zurna, shvi, and dhol. The CD can be purchased at the Traditional Crossroads website. In conjunction with the release, the group will begin a twenty-concert tour of the United States in January 2008. Arranged by Harold Hagopian of Traditional Crossroads, the tour will include performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, Cornell University, and other venues. Appearances for Armenian audiences will take place in New York, Fresno, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Hasmik Harutyunyan and Aleksan Harutyunyan are pleased to announce the release of their fourth recording for Face Music, of Switzerland. Horovel: Traditional Work Songs of Armenia consists of songs sung during the various work processes (plowing the field, grinding wheat, churning butter, harvest songs, etc.), many of which were collected by Komitas. The album can be ordered here.

I haven’t seen it yet myself, but I have it on good authority that Bonnie C. Marshall’s new book, The Flower of Paradise and Other Armenian Tales, is a beautiful thing to behold. That Dr. Marshall thought highly enough of the photographs on this website to include two dozen of them in a special glossy section in her book of translations is a compliment of which I am very proud. The text consists of Armenian folktales divided into five sections: Animal Tales, Myths and Legends, Fairy Tales, Tales of Everyday Life, and Wits and Dimwits. Included are an introduction to Armenia and its history, geography, language, and religion, as well as a recipe section, glossary, bibliography, and extensive list of recommended readings. Edited by Virginia Tashjian, The Flower of Paradise is part of the World Folklore Series published by Libraries Unlimited. The durable hardcover is suitable for all ages. Copies can be purchased at Amazon.com and directly from the publisher, or ordered at any bookstore.

A French-language review of Shoghaken’s concert at Theatre de la Ville is now available online. The page includes links to a short video, music, an interview with vocalists Hasmik Harutyunyan and Aleksan Harutyunyan, and a photo gallery.

Hasmik Harutyunyan and Barsegh Tumanyan [click to enlarge] It’s a pleasure to note Shoghaken’s successful Russian debut at the Gala Concert of the “St. Petersburg Palaces” classical music festival. The event was held June 29, 2006, at the Palace Marinski Rotunda in St. Petersburg. Also on hand were renowned opera stars Barsegh Tumanyan and Arax Davityan. The concert was followed by a trip to Germany, where the group participated in the “Dance and Folk Music Festival” held in Rudolstadt. . . . Meanwhile, pictures taken during recent travels here in Armenia have led to the addtion of a new page to the Faces of Armenia section of the Photo Gallery.

On Feb. 20, 2006, Shoghaken performed before a sellout crowd of over 1,000 at the prestigious Theatre de la Ville in Paris, France. Continuing their mission of preserving the traditional folk music of Armenia, the ensemble presented emigrant songs, work songs, lullabies, and traditional dances from several regions of Historic Armenia. The concert was broadcast live on the Theatre de la Ville website, and will be broadcast worldwide on the cultural television program “Mezzo.”

A new CD of traditional Armenian children’s song recorded by members of the Hayrig Mouradian Children’s Ensemble has been released by Albi’s Face Music of Switzerland. The album includes songs written and arranged by Komitas, and the children are accompanied by instrumentalists from the Shoghaken Ensemble. To hear samples from the CD, click here. For information about concerts or tours, click here.

New pictures taken in the regions of Taron and Vaspurakan and the City of Ani have been added to the Western Armenia and Faces of Armenia pages of the Photo Gallery. Photos have also been added to the Central Armenia section, as well as a second page. Khachkars at Saghmosavank and Geghard monasteries and monuments in Moush can be viewed in Statues and Monuments.

People are still talking about the Shoghaken Ensemble’s superb performance in Concert at the Cascade, a major musical event held in Yerevan August 5, 2005, and sponsored by the Cafesjian Museum Foundation. At the conclusion of a program that featured folk and ashoughagan songs and dances, a surprise theatrical presentation of a traditional Armenian wedding thrilled the audience and turned the night into a festive celebration that had people dancing around the stage and on apartment balconies overlooking the scene. The performance, also filmed for the international Armenian television audience, led many to comment afterward that their longing for true Armenian folk music had finally been satisfied, and that more events featuring Shoghaken should be held.

Hasmik Harutyunyan and her acclaimed Traditional Crossroads recording, Armenian Lullabies, were recognized by New York Times critic Jon Pareles in the paper’s April 15, 2005, edition. In “This Is the Sound of Globalization,” an article about World Music and its power to transcend boundaries, Pareles said: “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.” For more review excerpts and sample recordings from Armenian Lullabies, click here.

The eight-member Shoghaken Ensemble has returned from a successful trip to Montreal, where the group performed in Showcase events for the Strictly Mundial music conference, attended by concert and festival directors from Europe and Canada. While in Canada, Shoghaken vocalist Hasmik Harutyunyan and dudukist Gevorg Dabaghyan were interviewed at the Palais de Congress for the Canadian Broadcasting Network’s widely distributed “Global Village” radio program. Rounding out the group’s first visit to Canada was their concert for Montreal Hamazkayin on February 27, enjoyed by a sell-out audience of over 650.

Everyone is invited to visit a new page about Shoghaken’s successful participation in “Armenian Culture Days,” held December 12-17, 2004, in Sharja, United Arab Emirates. Several photos are included.

On December 10, the Shoghaken Ensemble will travel to Dubai for concerts arranged by the Armenian Culture Ministry. Known as “Armenian Culture Days,” the festival will also include Yerevan’s Komitas Quartet and a showing of carpets and other items from Yerevan’s Armenian Historical Museum. On return, Shoghaken will begin rehearsals for a trip to the Strictly Mundial conference in Montreal, set for late February. Initiated by the European Forum of World Music Festivals, Strictly Mundial is meant to foster communication between professionals in the world music community, with an emphasis on live music.

The 2004 celebration of Vardavar at Haghardzin Monastery is the subject of a new page in the Photo Gallery. Several more pictures have also been added to Faces of Armenia and Central Armenia.

A new page about Shoghaken Folk Ensemble’s Spring 2004 concert tour of the U.S. has been added to the site. Several photos are included, plus links to the Kennedy Center’s page about Shoghaken and a five-minute “Global Hits” segment featuring the group that aired April 22, 2004, on NPR, and a complete list of cities and locations where the concerts were held. Several new review excerpts pertaining to the group’s two new CDs have also been added to the pages about Shoghaken and Hasmik Harutyunyan.

Shoghaken Folk Ensemble members are happy to announce the release of two new CDs: Armenian Lullabies, a haunting collection of lullabies from Historic Armenia featuring Hasmik Harutyunyan and the musicians of Shoghaken; and Traditional Dances of Armenia, an instrumental and vocal presentation of traditional dances of the Armenian homeland. Official presentation of the CDs will coincide with the ensemble’s U.S. tour, scheduled to begin April 1, 2004, in Los Angeles, California.

A selection of brief, informative reviews about Shoghaken Folk Ensemble and their 2002 CD release, Armenia Anthology, is now available at the bottom of the Shoghaken page. The schedule for the group’s Spring 2004 nationwide tour of the U.S. can be found in the adjacent column.

Five pictures taken recently in Khramort have been added to Faces of Karabagh. Photos taken in Goris, Malishka, and Shenik have been added to Faces of Armenia. A view of the memorial in Goris for Garegin Nzhdeh may be found in Statues and Monuments.

The photo gallery has expanded once again. New photos taken at Ardvi, Haghbat, Odzun, Sanahin, and Vanadzor have been added to the Lori section, and a dozen new pictures have been added to Faces of Armenia, which now has a second page. Also, a picture of Dro’s burial site has been added to Statues and Monuments.

For quicker access, Yerevan Journal has been given its own page. A separate link is provided for each month. A journal link can also be found on the main page, and at the top of Scenes and Observations.

Picking up where we left off on the Lori page, nine new photos have been added after Dsevank. In Faces of Armenia, there are two more pictures representing the Lori region — one taken in Hopartsi, the other in Vardabloor.

A trip to Saghmosavank never fails to reveal something new. During a recent visit, we climbed to a nearby cemetery where I was able take three nice pictures of khachkars dating back to the time the monastery was built. To see them, click on the last three thumbnail images at the bottom of the Saghmosavank page.

Seventeen more pictures have been added to the photo gallery. The Lori page contains a new shot of Dsevank; there is a general view of St. Marineh in Ashtarak in the Central Armenia section; and on the Statues and Monuments page, you will find a photo of Mesrop Mashtots taken in Echmiadzin. Another fourteen, taken in Ashnak and Tutoo Choor, can be found in Faces of Armenia.

During July, three members of Shoghaken Folk Ensemble were in Estonia to give performances at the Viljandi Folk Festival. To see photos and read about the festival, click here.

Keeping up with recent travels, several new pictures have been added to the photo gallery. A new page devoted to Southern Armenia contains three pictures of Vorotnavank, an eleventh century monastery overlooking the Vorotan River gorge. Three new photos have also been added to the end of the Central Armenia section, six to Faces of Armenia, and two to Statues and Monuments.

Four new pictures have been added to the Faces of Armenia section of the photo gallery, and two to Statues and Monuments.

Eight new pictures have been added to the Faces of Armenia section of the photo gallery, and six to Statues and Monuments.

There has been a slight change in our website address. Our new URL is www.road-to-armenia.com. Please save this in your favorites. My e-mail address is still the same.

A new section, Statues and Monuments, has been added to the photo gallery. Represented so far are Mikael Nalbandian, Avetik Isahakian, Sayat Nova, Vahan Derian, Komidas, and Mardiros Saryan.

I am pleased to report that Shoghaken Folk Ensemble’s 2002 CD release, Armenia Anthology, was recognized as the Best CD of the year in the World Music category at the Association For Independent Music/National Association of Recording Merchandisers (AFIM/NARM) convention held in March 2003. The prestigious award, an independent labels version of the Grammys, is the fourth garnered by Harold Hagopian’s Traditional Crossroads label. For more information and an ordering link, go to Shoghaken Folk Ensemble.

Hasmik Harutyunyan was interviewed recently at KBOO radio, a widely acclaimed independent station in Portland, Oregon. She talked about her music and the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble, and sang selections from Armenia Anthology and her upcoming lullaby CD to be released by Traditonal Crossroads. The time and day of the interview, which will be broadcast on the Internet by KBOO, will be announced on this site.

Every so often, movie or record producers, dancers, or anyone interested in learning traditional Armenian song or dance come to Armenia, to the music’s “aghpyur,” or source. In November, Hasmik Harutyunyan and three Shoghaken musicians, Levon Tevanyan (blul, shvi, tav shvi), Tigran Ambaryan (kamancha), and Kamo Khachatryan (dhol) recorded vocal and instrumental dance melodies for professional dancer Ani Chakmajian, who traveled to Yerevan from Scotland in preparation for her upcoming tour. Ani left Yerevan enthused to start production for her dance tour this May, to take place in England.

A link to the Fall 2002 issue of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival newsletter, Talk Story, has been added at the bottom of the 2002 Folklife Festival page. The 24-page publication contains articles about the Silk Road Project, the festival, and the many people who participated from around the world.

It recently came to my attention that Lina Adamian, a 5-year-old girl living in Arstakh, is in need of medical attention for Leukoplakia, a precancerous condition. Her family needs financial assistance to get her the treatment she needs, which doctors say is only available abroad. To learn more, visit http://www.artsakhworld.com/help/index.html.

For a better idea of what daily life is like here in Armenia, visit our new page, Scenes and Observations. In the weeks and months to come, I will be writing about some of the things that impress me most about the places I go and the people I see.

Five new mp3s have been added to the Shoghaken Folk Ensemble page. They are “Khnotsu Yerk,” “Mokats Mirza,” “Naz Bar,” “Kessabi Lullaby,” and “Kroonk.”

A general view of Geghard Monastery and a nice shot of the church at Bdjni have been added to the Central Armenia section of the photo gallery. We’ve also added a picture to Faces of Armenia, and two others at the bottom of Hasmik Harutyunyan’s page. These three show Hasmik and members of her Hayrig Mouradian children’s ensemble in costume.

Everyone is invited to visit The Humor of Armenia, our new section focusing on Armenia’s classic humor. Featured are some of the famous jokes and anecdotes from Kyavar and Abaran, and short essays and articles about humorous happenings in Armenia. Check often for updates.

The voice of singer Aleksan Harutyunyan has been added to our list of mp3 samples. Aleksan Harutyunyan has worked as a soloist in the National Opera and as a member of the State National Choir. “Armenak Ghazariani Yerk” is a patriotic song from the beginning of the 20th century.

The Shoghaken Folk Ensemble has returned to Yerevan after a successful series of performances at the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held in the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C. The festival featured countries from the Old Silk Road, and was organized by renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma. One and half million people attended the June 26-July 7 event. To see photos and read more about the festival, click here.

In order to give you a closer look at Saghmosavank, one of my favorite monasteries, we’ve set up a separate page in the photo gallery with a short background and several new pictures. To find out more about this jewel of Armenian architecture, and to see why it is such a worthwhile place to visit, go directly to the new page or click on the link provided on the main photo gallery page.

A new page devoted to folklore singer Hasmik Harutyunyan has been added to the site. The page includes two photos, three mp3s, and a link to my translation of “Kanche Kroonk,” a piece written by Hasmik about one of Armenia’s most-loved folk songs.

Shoghaken Folk Ensemble’s new CD, Armenia Anthology, has been released by Traditional Crossroads and is now available for purchase. To hear two sample mp3s (“Nazani” and “Khooti Gorani”) and to order, go to Shoghaken Folk Ensemble.

Recent additions to “Road to Armenia” include a new page devoted to the Hayrig Mouradian Children’s Traditional Song and Dance Ensemble. There you can read about the genesis of the group and the late Hayrig Mouradian, one of Armenia’s most dedicated and revered singers of folk music. Two mp3s of Hayrig’s voice and three photos are provided. A link to the new page has been added on each page of the site.

We’ve also added my translation of a related article by Hasmik Harutyunyan that appeared in Aghpyur Children’s Journal. You can find a link to that page, which includes a photo of the children’s ensemble and an mp3, at the bottom of the Hayrig Mouradian page beneath his picture.

A new page devoted to Aghpyur Children’s Journal has also been added to the site. While preparing my article, I talked with the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Tadevos Tonoyan. You can read his comments and learn about the journal’s importance and long history by clicking on the “Aghpyur” link on any page.

There have also been several additions to the photo gallery. Most recent are those in the “Faces of Armenia” section.

Home       Journey through Armenia       Photo Gallery       Shoghaken Folk Ensemble       Hasmik Harutyunyan      

Hayrig Mouradian Children’s Ensemble       Aghpyur Children’s Journal       About the Author       Recommended Links      

The Humor of Armenia       Scenes and Observations       E-mail Your Comments