Tag Archive for: music

Khatchadourian at 120: A conversation with Maestro Raffi Mikaelian

Khatchadourian at 120: A conversation with Maestro Raffi Mikaelian
Next Step #785 – December 19, 2023 – A conversation with Maestro Raffi Mikaelian, Conductor of the Armenian National Opera and Ballet Theater in Yerevan, following a concert dedicated to Aram Khatachourian’s music on the 120th anniversary of his birth. Discussing the great composer, his music, and a “hidden” Anthem. Changing from Lenin, Soviet and October to God, Eternal and Our Father, and where to go from there. Spirituality in music.
Reference Links:
Maestro Raffi Mikaelian – biography (see below)
Concert at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral, December 3, 2023
Paros Choir – 30th Anniversary Jubilee
Aram Khatachadourian – Virtual Museum
Advent 50 – Daily Podcast Series
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for http://Epostle.net
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Maestro Raffi Mikaelian

Raffi Mikaelian is the Artistic director & Conductor of the
“Paros Chamber Choir” and Conductor at
“The National Opera & Ballet Theatre of Armenia”

Born in Kuwait in 1985, Raffi Mikaelian started his music education
at the age of six in Tripoli, Lebanon, where he learned to play the piano, then he attended
“Hamazkayin’s P.Ganatchian Music school” in Beirut where he started his choir conducting
lessons with the well-known conductor Zakar Keshishian. In 2003, he moved to Yerevan,
Armenia to study at the “Yerevan State Conservatory named after Komitas” where he obtained
his Masters and Postgraduate degree in Choral conducting (Class of I.Vartanian) and a Bachelor
in Orchestra Conducting (Class of R.Asatryan) in 2010. Mikaelian moved to the USA in 2015
where he obtained his “Artist Diploma” in orchestra conducting from the “San Diego State
University” in 2017 (Class of M.Gerdes). He has participated in Masterclasses with Alexander
Polyanichko, Kenneth Kiesler, Colin Metters, Peter Oundjian and Dr. Patrick Walders.

Raffi Mikaelian is well known in Armenia for his performances with the “Paros” chamber
choir, “Havatamq” female choir and Armenian Orchestras. Since 2009, he has been Artistic
Director of the “Paros” chamber choir (consisting mainly of singers with physical disabilities)
and has led them to four silver medals in the “World Choir Games” in Riga, Latvia (2014) and
Sochi, Russia (2016). In 2016 he conducted a performance for his Holiness Pope Francis in
Etchmiadzin, Armenia. Mikaelian has worked with artists such as Placido Domingo, Jeffrey
Douma, Davit Karapetyan and musicians of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. He was
awarded the First Prize and “Best Conductor” Prize at the “Kolozha Blagovest” Competition in
Grodno, Belarus in 2014 with the “Havatamq” female choir.

Mikaelian is founder and conductor of “Voce Dell’orchestra” in Los Angeles where they
mainly perform at the St.Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank, CA alongside the “Shnorhali”
choir. He is also assistant conductor and Board member of “Musica Vitale” in Coronado, CA
since 2018. Guest conducting appearances have included work with the “Open Arts Community
Choir” in Belfast, Northern Ireland and the St. Petersburg Youth Orchestra in Russia. Mikaelian
premiered T.Mansurian’s “Requiem” in San Diego with “Musica Vitale”. In 2019 & 2023
together with “Paros Chamber Choir” let performances at “Les Invalides”, “Eglise de la Sainte
Trinité” & “La Seine Musicale” in Paris, France.

In 2022 Raffi Mikaelian was appointed conductor at the “National Opera & Ballet
Theater of Armenia” where he regularly performs every month.
International tours include: Armenia, Austria, Belarus, France, Iran, Latvia, Lebanon, Northern
Ireland (UK), Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Syria, U.A.E. and the U.S.A.

Here, There, Everywhere

Roots of Armodoxy: Here, There, Everywhere

Four icons hang on Pushkin Street in the middle of Yerevan. For all the breath-taking, amazing, architecturally groundbreaking edifices from antiquity that we have highlighted, these icons are the only one that are internationally recognized. On the corner of Pushkin St. and an obscure alley way is the sign in Armenian letters, “Beatles Pub,” the photos of the Fab Four, John, Paul, George and Ringo, cover the front windows and a sign that says “coming soon.” No explanation necessary – everyone know, the “soon” is in reference to the pub and not the group.

The Beatles Pub, in many ways, is the best explanation of Armodoxy that we can give. The faith of the Armenian Church – Armenian Orthodoxy – does not exist in a vacuum. Just as Jesus came to the world – the tangible real world – Armenian Orthodoxy has a voice in the real world, the world we live in.

One of the greatest human expressions is music. It is a language that speaks to the soul. This is why all religious traditions incorporate music into their rituals and we in the Armenian Church have a treasure house of hymns, based on eight modalities, that connect human existence to the divine sphere. They speak of the manner in which people have perceived or understood the Divine. The hymns, which we refer to as sharagan, are expressions of our theology.

As people, we naturally search for meaning, and connect dots to things greater than ourselves. Music gives us a forum to do so, whether sacred music or pop song. For instance, when Paul McCartney sings “Mother Mary comes to me,” he is speaking of his own mother, whose name was Mary, but millions who have heard Let it Be made a connection to the blessed virgin. When John Lennon sings, “Imagine there’s no heaven,” it forces us to think about the divisions that are caused because of belief systems. Elanor Rigby’s priest, Father McKenzie writes words to a sermon that no one hears the Inner Light asks us see without looking. Most importantly, we all can buy into “All you need is Love” and “Give Peace a Chance.”

When the Beatles “invaded” the world in the early 1960’s, life changed. The Beatles’ influence on pop culture is undeniable, but their influence is much farther reaching and affects just about every arena primarily because their music – melodies and words – have been absorbed by such a diverse population for the last 60+ years. As a young boy, I remember my grandmother humming the tune, “Yesterday” as she went about daily chores. She was a genocide survivor and was in her 60’s when the Beatles were a hit. I was never sure what about the song attracted her ear. Could it have been that yesterday, all her troubles were far away? or was it simply the eloquent music that had already touched millions deep in the soul? On the other end of the age spectrum, my niece, in her 20s, who upon moving to New York paid homage to John Lennon by visiting the Strawberry Fields Memorial. The span of years between my grandmother and my niece is over 100 years; the Beatles touched across generations, how can their influence be discounted?

Armodoxy is the recognition that our faith exists in a world that is living and breathing. Because it is living, it is evolving. The alternative to life is death, in which case matter does not evolve but decays. Armodoxy is about pushing ourselves to understand our faith within the context of life. When Jesus offered parables using a grain of wheat or the mustard seed or grapes and the vineyard, he was speaking to the people in a language which they all understood. The people of the time lived in an agrarian society; they were people of the land. They knew what a mustard seed was, much like a child of today knows what an app is.

Armodoxy is the realistic admission that culture and the life-forces around us, impact and influence us. It is the recognition that Christianity evolved in a pocket of the world, among a group of people, inside of the Armenian Church, and those people survived and thrived against the odds. Armodoxy is the secret formula, so to speak, of how faith and life intertwine and give us meaning. It is the recognition that God did not create us as robots but gave us the gift of thought to interact, to discuss, to arrive at the point of understanding and harmony with our fellow human being. Coupled with our prayer life, we share the unchanging Truth of God that has reached us today. We are the custodians of that Tradition for the time that we are allotted in this world.

The Beatles pub was opening soon. Unfortunately, we were unable to see it in action, but a few weeks after we left, it was Ringo Starr’s birthday (7/7) and they celebrated there, and accented his motto phrase, Peace and Love – khaghootiun yev ser – which is the bottom line, whether sung or said, in English or Armenian, classical or contemporary.

From the Armenian Book of Hours we pray, “Peace and life, our Lord and Savior, the Only Begotten Son of God, give us Your peace, that you grant to your apostles by breathing into them Your life-giving and all powerful Holy Spirit, so that having found our peace from all worldly commotions we may become a temple and a habitation of your grace, and may give you thanks and glorify you together with the Father and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

The Eve of Eve

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #707: The Christmas edition is some great music interspersed with a smattering of thoughts along the way to Christmas.
Toy Drive 2021
Reflections on Humility in Service (Dekmejian)
Amy Grant, O Come All Ye Faithful
Joan Baez, Drummer Boy
Ara Dabanjian and Element Band, Spirit of Christmas
Harry Connick Jr. O Holy Night
Joni Mitchell, River
Jethro Tull, Another Christmas Song
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Beauty as Element

Next Step #622: Beauty in a world struck by a virus: discovering the importance of beauty in Creation and in our creations. Poetry, art, music all come together to accentuate the joy we find in life. Pope Francis on Prayer. Day of prayer and a study of prayer against the pandemic. McDonald & Jack: look for the source. Virtual sacraments: The new Happy Harry of the day?
Isabel Bayrakdarian “Antaram Dzaghig”
Healing through Music – A message from Isabel Bayrakdarian
Pirsig’s Metaphysics on Quality
Pope Francis joins Muslim leaders to call for day of prayer against coronavirus
Power of Prayer Study (Kansas)
Happy Harry Radio
Jim Lovell on Apollo 8
Cover: Flowers beyond paper, 2020 Fr. Vazken
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Immortality Now: Diva in the Church

Next Step #532: Immortality in the here and now. Aretha Franklin joins the ranks of the immortals. Cecil Franklin on music and the Gospel Message of Jesus. And bringing it home with reflection of His Holiness Vazken I, new insights on this giant among the 20th century clergy. Road Trip: A scrapbook with articles and pictures from the 1960 first visit of the Supreme Patriarch: First glance. Libraries, photography, sound preservation and cloud storage, making way for immortality.
Walk in the Light & Cecil Franklin on music
Aretha Franklin Passing
Paul McCartney Tweet on the Aretha
Vazken I – NY Times on passing
Libraries Destroyed
Scrapbook of 1960 Visit – watch for link coming soon
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Carols this Very Minute

Next Step #497: The power of music to soothe and the power of a Christmas carol to transport to a place we should be. Taking a break from all the things that we are not doing at Christmas time: The annual pick of carols by Fr. Vazken for 2017. Enjoy some tunes and some expressions for change through the Babe in the Manger.
Songs: Bing Crosby & David Bowie “Drummer Boy”; Loreena McKennett “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”; Blackmore’s Night “I Saw Three Ships”; Bob Dylan “Must Be Santa”; Louis Armstrong “Winter Wonderland”; Chicago “O Come All Ye Faithful”; Mary Hopkin “Mary Had a Baby”; Joan Baez “What Child is This?”; Element Band “Hark the Herald Angels”; Jethro Tull “A Christmas Song”
Mystery Hum of the Earth
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Sowing Creativity with Occam

Next Step #492: Beginning with the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13), Fr. Vazken looks at the amazing phenomena of child prodigy Alma Deutscher, comparisons to Mozart, and applying Occam’s Razor across the lines of creativity, God and mystery. Also – on Church unity – Armenian and non.
Alma Deutscher on CBS’s 60 Minutes
Occam’s Razor
When Americans tried to unite the Church
Parable of the Sower
New Supernova
Einstein on Mystery
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Hope from the Badlands

Next Step #434: A conversation with Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian about his upcoming Springsteen Retreat and using the artist’s music to deliver a message of faith, hope and love. Also – Finding the Silence in the presence of God at the St. Ignatius Chapel. Here’s a “grave turner” – wait ’til you hear what they’re trying to pass-off as the Mission of the Church!
Song: “To Zabelle” by Gor Mkhitarian
Fr. Stepanos delivers Springsteen style sermon
St. Peter Armenian Church, Watervliet, NY
Springsteen Retreat
Chapel of St. Ignatius – University of Washington
I have found the Pearl
AC101 Videos: www.youtube.com/armodoxy
Sponsored by Predator Cycling – specializing in custom carbon bicycles, components, accessories and repair.
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Riff Swapping

Next Step #417: The challenges of the day met with relevancy: the power of music – and defining life. The Gor Passport debut; Different riffs – comments by Ian Anderson, from Beethoven to Deep Purple; AC101 video goes viral – it may not be for reasons of our liking. Evolutionary Music from hand holding to military protest. This and much more.
Gor Mkhitarian’s Passport
Passport Debut Photos
AC101 – www.youtube.com/armodoxy
AC101 on “Etchmiadzin”
SunSash Blog
Children of Light vs. the Children of this Age
Photo:  Artichoke Riffs by Fr. Vazken, 2016
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8 December 2015

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, California – Social issues and change are the focus of a new album by singer/songwriter Gor Mkhitarian, to be produced in collaboration with the In His Shoes global outreach. The 10-track album, featuring the newest collection of musical expressions is called “Passport” and tackles some of the pressing issues of the day, in particular in reference to Armenia and a despondent diaspora. With rich melody lines, innovative riffs and sensitive lyrics, this collection draws the listener into a world of hope and possibilities.

Speaking for In His Shoes, Fr. Vazken Movsesian comments, “We’re excited to be working with Gor Mkhitarian on this project. Music has power to speak to the soul. When we look at a world filled with pain and suffering, it’s important to understand that each of us is part of the problem and at the same time, part of the solution. ‘Passport’ opens a world, giving us a chance to travel to solutions that are no farther than within our reach.”

Gor Mkhitarian comes out of the Armenian rock underground and has successfully blended raw blends of Rock & Roll to some of the most moving and touching themes of Armenian Folk. “Passport” will be the eighth album in a career which spans over two decades.

This is the second collaborative effort between In His Shoes and Gor Mkhitarian. In 2008, the critically acclaimed “Spirit” album was released which has brought attention to the synthesis of spirit and soul in addressing the challenges of life.

Says Fr. Vazken, “Gor’s music is electrifying in touching the deepest parts of the soul, at the same time it is soothing, bringing inner tranquility and focus which is so necessary for finding the strength to deal with life’s challenges.”

Fr. Vazken heads the In His Shoes outreach which has been addressing issues of inhumanity, especially Genocide, with the power of love and forgiveness. The first collaboration between Fr. Vazken and Gor Mkhitarian took place in 2007 at an International forum on Forgiveness was organized by In His Shoes. Since that time, they have worked together in bringing a new approach to some of the most pressing issues and problems plaguing humanity.

Passport addresses some difficult and controversial issues including environment, poverty, domestic violence, immigration and national exodus. Planned for release in the summer of 2016, along with a world tour, a new music video will be debuted on December 18, 2015 on Gor’s Music channel: www.Youtube.com/GorMusic

For more information visit www.InHisShoes.org and Gor Mkhitarian on Facebook.

Photo: Gor Mkhitarian & Fr. Vazken Movsesian collaborate on the “Passport” project.