The story of the Ensemble really begins with my discovery of the piano compositions of Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann.
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was born in Armenia, and known to many in the West as one of the major spiritual figures of the 20th century. It is said that experiences in Gurdjieff’s childhood awoke within him an irrepressible need to understand the mystery of human existence. Early in his life, he and a group of fellow ‘seekers of truth’ set out on a search to understand the aim and significance of life on earth, and in particular man’s place in the cosmos.
The traditional ethnic hymns, chants and dances that the Armenian mystic George Ivanovich Gurdjieff collected around the turn of the 20th century, and later transcribed with the help of the Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann, are among the most entrancing works ever written for piano. Many are simple: a slender melodic line, curled here and there into arabesques, above a prayer-bead string of repeated notes in the bass. Each piece is brief — the length of a pop song — and powerfully hypnotic.
Interview with Levon Eskenian, Director of The Gurdjieff Ensemble
As part of a recent feature on the new ECM album by the Gurdjieff Ensemble, featuring the music of Komitas, for RootsWorld online magazine, I had the fortune of interviewing the ensemble’s director, Levon Eskenian. The article also includes a review of the album by Erik Keilholtz. My own review of the album, soon to appear on this site, will feature others parts of that same interview not included for being more specifically related to ECM. In the meantime, click the cover below to read on.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble, Leading Group Specializing in Ancient and Medieval Music, set to Make Debut American Tour
The Gurdjieff Ensemble, one of the leading groups in the world specializing in ancient and medieval music from the East, will be making their first American Tour to three major cities this September sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). The internationally acclaimed Gurdjieff Ensemble was founded by Armenian musician Levon Eskenian in 2008 with the intention of bringing the music of the Armenian philosopher, author and composer Georges I. Gurdjieff back to its ethnic inspirational sources.
Folklore And Classicism From ECM: Dino Saluzzi's Piano Music & The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble
Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935) is revered by Armenians as a songwriter. But he was also a composer, singer, poet, ethnomusicologist, and collector of folk songs. Because of his ability to bring traditional Armenian music into a contemporary context he is often referred to as the father of modern Armenian music. His compositional practice involved selecting the most interesting variants of traditional melodies and rhythmic patterns as source material, recasting them into formal compositions while remaining true to the spirit and style of the originals. For this recording The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble under director Levon Eskenian has rearranged Komitas compositions for an ensemble of folk instruments, as they did with the music of Gurdjieff on their debut recording Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff (ECM, 2011).
Ever since it was founded, the Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble has been regularly touring around the world. It has performed at festivals such as the Holland Festival in the Netherlands, the Morgenlandfestival in Germany, the Nostalgia Festival in Poland, the Imago Dei in Austria, the Stansern Musiktagen in Switzerland, the Fiestival in Belgium; and in concert halls such as the Bozar Centre 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 São Paulo in Brazil; the Capilla del Buen Pastor in Cordoba, Argentina; the AUB in Lebanon; and the Komitas Hall in Yerevan, among others.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble by Levon Eskenian draws attention to Komitas' music
Armenian music, not immediately something that is daily, but last week they paid attention to two albums in Late Night World on Klara that focus on Armenian music. On Monday you got music from Tigran Hamasyan and the Yerevan State Chamber Choir who worked together on the album ‘Luys I Luso’ (Light from the Light); as promised today attention for that second album with which they started their broadcast in Late Night World.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble conducted by Levon Eskenian made the album ‘Komitas’ which was released on the ECM label this year .
Levon Eskenian re-introduces us to the folk music tradition of Armenia
A young man is looking for the roots of the music of his place, many of which are common to ours. To find them, he looks back at the great composers and musicologists who, about 150 years ago, traveled, recorded the folk music of the peoples they met and saved the melodies in their own music: Komitas, who saved the Armenian folk music in the dark times, and Gurdjieff – or Georgiadis in the summer, as he was also of Greek descent. Now is the time for these melodies to reunite with the instruments they used to play with at other times. This fascinating process was followed by Levon Eskenian , who spoke to Popaganda about it shortly before he was in Athens to share with us the wonderful result of his work.
Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with Lebanese-Armenian Levon Eskenian. In 1996, he overlooked the difficult conditions in Armenia and decided to settle in the Homeland with the great desire to examine pure Armenian music.
In Armenia, Levon first created the Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble, which immediately became popular abroad and even received the Edison Award, which is one of the world’s four most prestigious awards. Most importantly, he started a family in the Homeland.
The musician who brought Komitas music on board of British Airline planes
Lebanese-Armenian Levon Eskenian is the founder of the Gurdjieff Ensemble. In an interview with Arevelk daily, Eskenian noted that the aim was to create ethnographically authentic arrangements of the G.I. Gurdjieff’s piano music and the music of Komitas Vardapet and disseminate and popularize the Armenian music, preserve its authenticity. The ensemble comprises 11 recognized musicians with their musical instruments.
ONE of the city’s important annual cultural feasts, the Fourth Belt & Road International Musical Festival will be held between March 20 and April 26, announced the Shenzhen Municipal Government at a news conference Thursday. Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra will play an original piece called “My Country.” Other performers include Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu, the Estonian national male choir and the Gurdjieff Ensemble.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble Connects New York Audiences to Komitas with a Unique Twist
NEW YORK, NY — The Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at New York’s renowned Symphony Space was filled with applause as hundreds of Komitas enthusiasts, Armenian and non-Armenians alike, stood to their feet for an encore from the critically acclaimed Gurdjieff Ensemble on the night of Friday, September 27th. The concert, organized by AGBU’s Performing Arts Department (PAD) in celebration of Komitas’ 150th Anniversary, was the second stop in the Ensemble’s American debut tour, performing only one day after appearing before a packed house at the World Music Festival in Chicago.
Between the ephemeral and the eternal: Levon Eskenian’s de/re-construction of Gurdjieff and Komitas
Ever since John Cage found music in the silence that surrounds us, musicians have been deconstructing compositions to experiment with sounds. Musicology goes as far as to explore the role of the player’s movements in remodeling the musical structure of a piece, or to create a debate by playing different editions of a composition.
One man has taken the deconstruction of musical scores to a whole new level. Putting his diverse musical background into action, Levon Eskenian, the founder of the Gurdjieff Ensemble (founded in 2008), has been dissecting the inner makings of folk-based classical pieces to dig out authentic sounds and arrange them back into their original settings, while keeping the compositions intact.
The Mystic and the Priest: The Gurdjieff Ensemble Performs Komitas
As the program title indicates, the bulk of the evening will honor the lilting and beautifully sonorous works of Komitas Vartabed. Many of these pieces can be found on the Gurdjieff Ensemble’s second album “Komitas” (also on ECM Records), which explores the ties that bind Armenian sacred and secular music. Born Soghomon Soghomonian in 1869, Komitas was also an ethnomusicologist, choral conductor and teacher. He miraculously survived deportation, but he suffered greatly from the horrors that he witnessed during the Armenian Genocide.
The instrumentation of the ensemble is very much indigenous to traditional Armenia and its surrounds, with santur, folk oboe, oud, and such. Komitas’s music is very much appropriate for the treatment, as well as being ravishingly beautiful in itself. We get 18 brief pieces, played with care, zeal and striking sonance. This is essential for its arrangements and its core Komitas repertoire. It is a must for those who love things Armenian and those who would in any case welcome a musical adventure of lasting value.
Gurdjieff Ensemble participated in Germany's prestigious Rudolstadt festival
The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble had a great success in Germany where it participated at Rudolstadt festival – one of the most famous music festivals in Europe. Over 80,000 people came to listen to the performers who arrived in Germany from different countries. More than 100 groups participated in the festival. The performance of the Gurdjieff ensemble aroused great interest among the audience and the excerpts of the Ensemble’s Rudolstadt concert were broadcast on Bavarian radio on July 30. The success of the Ensemble came even earlier. In June, the Ensemble performed at Kongresshaus Zurich and Schaffhausen Municipality in Switzerland.
We are very happy to see the big interest towards Gurdjieff’s music everywhere, and to share with you the news that few days ago the CD was awarded the Dutch Edison’s Award.The Gurdjieff Ensemble was founded in 2008 by the Armenian musician, Levon Eskenian, with the aim of creating ethnographically authentic arrangements of the G.I. Gurdjieff/Thomas de Hartmann piano music- as you may know, in the 1920’s, Gurdjieff intended to present his music also with authentic Eastern instruments.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble – Komitas | Album Review | Top of the World
Levon Eskenian rearranges Komitas’ melodies for the peasant sound world from which he originally extracted them: duo and trio performances on instruments such as duduk, zurna, kemancha, oud, santur, kanun, daf, and percussion. And the results are mesmerisingly beautiful, as different permutations of these instruments create delicately different textures, together with the occasional addition of the human voice. The rhythms of the dances that Komitas arranged for piano now sound gently but insistently pervasive, as he himself might have first encountered them.
Komitas is always in the heart of Armenian musicians and Armenians in general
From the twisting, melismatic melodies of the pogh to the bright timbre of the zurna and the various drums, these pieces range from meditative to rousing, often using both moods in the same piece, as they do in “Msho Shoror”, which opens with an almost martial dance section, then moves to sinuous flute and zither work, through a gently pulsing andante, and back and forth until finally resting in a contemplative section of plucked strings. Overall the musicianship on Komitas shines. Eskenian has put together a first-rate ensemble, whose abilities match their rather profound understanding of the musical material. On one of the tracks, “Hov Arek”, a vocalist takes the melody, which is a welcome diversion (if only there were more vocals!).
A world-renowned ensemble, inspired by artistic and philosophical ideas of the famous Armenian mystic Georgi Gurdijeff. Its music is rooted in folk and religious music — Armenian, Greek, Arab, Kurdish, Assyrian, Persian and Caucasian. In its record Komitas released in 2015 by the prestigious ECM label, the group took up the work of Komitas Vardapet – an Armenian composer, ethnomusicologist, arranger, vocalist and priest, known as the father of contemporary Armenian music. The group was set up in 2008 under the name The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble. The initiative was launched by the Armenian musician Levon Eskenian with the aim to play G.I. Gurdijeff’s and Thomas de Hartmann’s piano music, creating arrangements characterised with authentic sound and ethnographic awareness. The ensemble consists of leading Armenian instrumentalists, playing such instruments as. duduk, ney, saz, tar, kamancheh, oud, kanon, santur, daf, tombak and dhol.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble: Musical Ambassadors of Armenia
The master cycle on Friday evening proved to be limitless at the end of this series this year: The Gurdjieff Ensemble was a guest in the Tonhalle St. Gallen. It amazed and delighted the chamber music audience. The names of the instruments alone are music, a limitless symphony: Kamantsche and Zurna, Duduk and Oud, Santur, Zimbeln, Tmbuk and Dap. Wind, percussion and stringed instruments, on which traditional folk music from Armenia has been played for centuries. Thanks to Georges Iwanowitsch Gurdjieff (1866–1949) for the fact that the songs, sacred chants and dances still exist, who processed and saved them in pieces and fragments for piano, as well as Komitas Vardapet.
The Gurdjiev Ensemble from Armenia will perform at VEF Culture Palace
The concert will feature arrangements of music by the 20th century spiritual legend Georgiy Ivanovich Gurdzhiev and the Armenian priest and composer Komitas.
The Gurdjieff ensemble was founded in 2008 by the great musician Levenian to play ethnographically authentic arrangements of piano music by Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann.
Hewar and Gurdjieff Ensemble @Hollandfestival: music unites two troubled peoples
Everyone sits down again with great hilarity to hear the real finale of this mixed Armenian-Syrian concert. Gorani-Tamzara refers to a song by a Syrian-Armenian singer recorded in Aleppo, Azmeh says. Nobody misses the symbolism of this city destroyed in the Syrian civil war. The whole concert has a political load. Millions of Armenians were murdered or driven out during the 1915 genocide and lead (d) and live in the diaspora. Syrians are now fleeing the violence and destruction in their homeland. An interesting idea to unite these two troubled peoples musically. The Syrian Hewar uses Western classical instruments: clarinet, cello, viola d’amore. Singer / composer Dima Orsho is as virtuoso in jazzy scats as in Arabic-tinged vocal lines full of microtonal decorations. The Gurdjieff Ensemble plays on native Arab instruments. In addition to the well-known oud (lute), santur and qanun (plank citers) are the Persian tar (type of guitar) and the kemençe, a two-stringed fiddle.
The Gurdjieff ensemble was founded in 2008 by the great musician Levenian to play ethnographically authentic arrangements of piano music by Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann.
Gurdjieff Ensemble with free entrance to "Parnassos"
A wonderful music ensemble is coming to take us to the spiritual world and the rich musical traditions of Armenia, on April 19 in Athens. Levon Eskenian created the Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble in 2008, hoping to explore the sources of inspiration for Gurdjieff’s music. The music, recorded at the ECM in 2011, was a historic milestone in Gurdjieff’s music, both in Armenia and in the rest of the world. The recording won the Edison Award in the Netherlands as well as the National Music Award in Armenia for inspiring the use of traditional instruments in the performance of the spirit of music.The Gurdjieff ensemble was founded in 2008 by the great musician Levenian to play ethnographically authentic arrangements of piano music by Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann.
Although a pianist with classical studies and an interest in jazz, he has always been very interested in and studied the traditional music of his country, Armenia, and in fact its roots. In 2008 he did this work, forming the Gurdjieff Ensemble, a group of experts in the idiom, with the primary purpose, as its name suggests, to bring back to music the music and songs of the great Greek-Armenian philosopher Gurdjieff. They did it in an exemplary way, culminating in the recording of an album released by the most iconic European jazz company, the German ECM, in ’11, and garnering international acclaim for the quality but also for the respect and authenticity with which it approached its material.
Among the various celebrations, special cultural attention seems to have been expressed by ECM with three outputs, relatively independent and thematically dedicated to the musical heritage of this ancient Caucasian people: in addition to the passage on the label of Tigran Hamasyan with choral materials (Luys i Luso) and the announced piano album by Lusine Grigoryan (Komitas: Piano Compositions), for the second time space (and freedom) was given on record to the traditional Gurdjieff Ensemble, already noted for a collection donated to the well-known Greek-Armenian thinker and author George Ivanocich Gurdjieff, and here engaged by the producer Manfred Eicher in the thematic treatment of the work of the “spiritual patriarch” of Armenian music Komitas Vardapet (aka Soghomon Soghomonyan), religious, musicologist,composer and witness and in his way martyr of the above Genocide.
Levon Eskenian, artistic director of The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble
Founded by Levon Eskenian, The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble is one of the most famous ensembles of ancient and medieval music in the world, composed of the most prominent traditional Armenian instrumentalists.
In 2011, ECM Records released “Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff” by the Gurdjieff Ensemble with recordings by the famous philosopher and musician, an album that was acclaimed and awarded worldwide, including the Edison Award in Holland (one of the four biggest awards in the world music), the National Music Award in Armenia and was also selected as the CD of the week by major radio stations worldwide.Among the various celebrations, special cultural attention seems to have been expressed by ECM with three outputs, relatively independent and thematically dedicated to the musical heritage of this ancient Caucasian people.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble, for the first time in Brazil, makes two concerts at Sala São Paulo
In the first concert, the group presents a program featuring the best of the music of the Armenian philosopher and spiritual master GI Gurdjieff, who carried with him a wealth of musical ideas based on folk traditions from Armenia and other cultures in the Middle East. Since Gurdjieff’s compositions were all written for piano (through his faithful disciple, pianist and composer Thomas de Hartmann), the group’s artistic director made the transcriptions for oriental instruments. “It is a song that was created with oriental instruments”, says Levon Eskenian, “and it is linked to the nature of the terrain and landscapes in which it emerged, it is related to the language and traditions of their respective ethnic groups”.
The Gurdjieff Ensemble for the first time in Brazil
According to him, Komitas music was a fundamental reference when Hartmann worked on the preparation of Gurdjieff’s music for solo piano, and also influenced Eskenian in the elaboration of his own works. arrangements. For these and other reasons, it was very natural for him to reinvestigate the music of Komitas, which in his work collected thousands of themes of folklore and sacred songs,
From the terrestrial mysticism and the high altitude meditation of Havun, entrusted in duo to the most iconic of the Armenian instruments (that duduk here placed in its most literal and authentic context), to the intriguing elegance and the balance game of the prologue of Mankanan Nvag XII , of Mozartian-like subtlety and lightness before exploding in the bursting march time of the second part, from the markedly spicy hints of Manushaki and Marali to the ineffable languors of Yerangui , from the subtle water energies of Hoy, Nazan to the vigorous aerial energies in Havik(entrusted to the Pogh flute, of intense expressive charge) stand out, for greater temporal extension and descent into the orchestral mass field, Karno Shohor (the last “track” of Yot Par , the sequence of Seven Dances which constitutes the central part of the disc ) and above all Msho Shoror , a representative passage of intense and articulated dramaturgy, endowed with an esoteric, but tangible narrative attitude, finding the whole coherent epilogue in the shades of the twilight of the via eterea via Akna Onor.
John Zorn and the Gurdjieff effect: an agreement over the centuries
Gurdjieff’s compositions are not the least interesting part of his work. His love for music, so much so as to recognize a fundamental role in the process of self-awareness of man, produces scores that combine Arab, Armenian, Greek, Kurdish and Persian traditions. In his youth, moreover, Gurdjieff was a singer in the choir of the Russian Orthodox church in Kars, Turkey, and later improvised almost daily, with guitar and harmonium, hymns and prayers.
The album “Music Of Georges I. Gurdjieff”, released by ECM in 2011, is recorded by The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble, a group founded in 2008 by the Armenian pianist and composer Levon Eskenian.