Artist of the month: levonarakelian

Answers: Grigor Arakelian

Would you tell us a bit about the paths that have brought you, your son and your players together at this point in your musical careers? (Where were you born, Where have you lived, education, What brought you to iStock?)

Our ensemble was founded at 2006 after suggestion of French producer Roger Piranian. My musical purpose was and is to present Armenian old music in a new manner after Soviet period of Armenia, make it more known in the world, as it is one of the most ancient and little known cultures in the world. I’m writing and arranging music in special Armenian modal system, which is very different from European classical harmony and Oriental modes. Some musicians in Armenia were excited for this idea and joined me. About the possibilities of iStock I learned from Levon and we decided to participate, as it is also one of the ways to present Armenian music to the world. Our musicians and me were born and live in Armenia, Yerevan (the capital). We graduated the State Conservatory of Yerevan. I learned in violoncello and composition classes at 1981-1986. After some time I’ve chosen to discover and work in a little other area in music – Armenian traditional and sacred music.

Your portfolio hosts some of the most transparent, accurate and delicate recordings in the collection. Could you tell us about how these recordings are made?

Several years I worked in different recording studios in Yerevan as a sound-engineer. It helps me now to make many recordings myself (with Levon producing the mix's). Some recordings are made in studio with Neumann, AKG microphones. Some are made during our rehearsals and some are made in Armenian historical churches. Sometimes we record using only the handy ZOOM H4 recorder. On iStock we’ve put only some parts of compositions, because they are rather long (more, than 4 min.)

You feature instruments in your music that are traditional to Middle Eastern music - could you name name some of them for us and how they are important to the tone of your music.

Doudouk -the most famous Armenian traditional instrument. Other nations in our region also play on it, but the manner and sound is very different. Kanon – used also in Turkey and Arabians, the tuning is different. String instruments – Armenian violin, viola, cello. Those are new creations of ancient bowed strings instruments. The Armenian violin djut’ak comes from 10th century. My instrument – Armenian Viola, or k’emani, specially made by my proposal based on our knowledge about historical Armenian instrument, is an Armenian kind of Viola da Gamba. It’s sound is very special and unique for Armenian sacred music.

What music, artists or instrument changed your life and how?

Various artists have had an impact on me during all my life. I think I was mostly influenced by following composers: Armenian classical composer Komitas, famous classical composers Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, Rachmaninof, Mahler. I am impressed very much by the music of Arvo Part. Conductors: Furtwangler, Karayan, Gergiev… I love baroque music and I am trying to develop it in Armenia.

If you could speak to any person you wanted for 15 minutes who would you choose and what would you ask them?

I would choose any person I mentioned above, but I wouldn’t ask them anything. I would stay silent and would look and listen them anything they do or tell.

Hear levonarakelian's portfolio

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