“What results may we expect when taking folk music-playing turned into composer’s art back to its folk sources and to folk thinking? This is a unique experience, something that occurs inside the folklore-composing art relationship.” The fabric of Komitas’s compositions is illuminated by the deployment of the folk instruments. “How should we characterize such an endeavour?” “As research? Differentiation between documenting and artistic thinking? Coexistence of folklore and composer’s art?”“Maybe we can go on with questions of this kind, but, in all cases, Eskenian’s years-long meticulous work has led to unusual beauty – this is obvious.” composer, Tigran Mansurian
About Gurdjieff Ensemble
The Gurdjieff Ensemble was founded by Levon Eskenian to play ‘ethnographically authentic’ arrangements of the G.I. Gurdjieff/Thomas de Hartmann piano music, the ensemble consists of leading musicians playing Armenian and Middle Eastern authentic instruments. Their debut album on ECM records, Music of G.I. Gurdjieff, was widely acclaimed, and won prestigious awards including the Edison Award as Album of the Year in 2012 .
Gurdjieff, who is considered to be one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century, was born in Armenia in the late 19th century, created the approach of the Harmonious Development of Man in the course of his journeys throughout the world . His extraordinary musical repertoire was based on the music he heard while traveling in Armenia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and many parts of the Central Asia, India and North Africa, where he witnessed a myriad of folk and spiritual music, rituals and dance traditions. The pieces that Eskenian has collected have their roots in Armenian, Greek, Arabic, Assyrian, Kurdish, Persian and Caucasian folk and spiritual music, and the rearrangements were created with an eye towards preserving their authenticity.
since 2011 the ensemble has been touring around the world at major festival and venues such as the Holland Festival in the Netherlands, the Wege Durch Das Land, the Lux Aeterna of the Elbphilharmonie, the Rudolstadt and the Morgenland festivals in Germany, the Nostalgia Festival in Poland; the Imago Dei in Austria; the Stansern Musiktage in Switzerland; the Fiestival in Belgium; and concerts at famous venues such as the Bozar Center For Fine Arts in Brussels; the Frari Church in Venice; the Pushkin State Museum in Moscow, the Albert hall in Canberra, Australia; the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam; the Sala Radio in Bucharest; the Gulbenkian hall in Lisbon, the Sala Sao Paulo in Brazil ;Capilla Del Buen Pastor in Cordoba, Argentina; the AUB in Lebanon; the Komitas hall in Yerevan and others.
Now Eskenian and his musicians turn their attention to the music of Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935). Composer, ethnomusicologist, arranger, singer and priest, Komitas is popularly held to be the founder of contemporary music in Armenia, and in his work as a collector he explored the connections that uniquely bind together Armenian sacred and secular music. With Eskenian’s special focus on folk instrumentation, antropological and ethnomusicological researches and inspired arrangements the Ensemble illuminates the deep roots of Komitas’s compositions in this programme recorded in Lugano and released in autumn 2015. Eskenian and the Gurdjieff Ensemble will continue touring with their music of Georges I.Gurdjieff programme and starting from the second season of 2016 also with their new Komitas programme.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble
Levon Eskenian – arranger, artistic director/ Emmanuel Hovhannisyan – duduk, zourna, pku/ Avag Margaryan – blul , zourna/ Armen Ayvazyan – kamancha/ Aram Nikoghosyan – oud/ Meri Vardanyan – kanon/ Vladimir Papikyan – santur, voice/ Davit Avagyan – tar,saz/ Mesrop Khalatyan – dap/dhol/ Norayr Gapoyan – duduk/ Eduard Harutyunyan -tmbouk, cymbals, bell
“A haunting and atmospheric selection of instrumental pieces…An intriguing, often gently exquisite set.” The Guardian – Robin Denselow (UK)
“Msho Shoror made up of dances from the monastery of Surb Karapet…These dances were part of the religious ritual and include the sound of a jangling censer and plate jingles that were used by the priests…This is a substantial piece of musical archaeology and resuscitation.” Simon Broughton, Songlines UK, December 2015
“the results are mesmerisingly beautiful, as different permutations of these instruments create delicately different textures, together with the occasional addition of the human voice”.Michael Church, Songlines UK, January/February 2016
“…the ensemble makes sounds that are startingly strange and beautiful..” Phil Johnson , The Independent On Sunday” December 2015 “The combination of instrumental voices, and the otherness of the voices themselves creates deep, mysterious yet marvellously relaxing soundscapes…”
“Sie präsentieren sich mit berückenden, sehnsuchtsvollen, tief beseelten Klängen, die auf musikalische Rituale des täglichen Lebens zurückgehen, auf Kirchen-, Liebes- und Tanzlieder, Hirtenmelodien und rituelle Musik. Das ist wie eine akustische Brücke über die Jahrhunderte und ein Toleranzprogramm der Weltgegenden.” Ulrich Steinmetzger, Mitteldeutsche Zeitung
“The duduk permeates everything with its mournful grace, with the oud and tar lute, the kanun zither, and the daf frame drum adding their evocative sound…” BBC
“Eskenian and his ensemble proceed with vinyasa-like flow, indulging in spontaneous yet organic movement while full of curiosity and wonder” WQXR
“A prominent Armenian musician is shedding lovely new light on music hitherto heard on the piano..” ABC