Three International Composers Pay Tribute to Poet Daniel Varoujan



NEW YORK — The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) announced recently the winners of the 2014 Sayat Nova International Composition Competition. Hovik Sardaryan, 21, of Armenia was awarded first prize; Fun Gordon Dic-lun, 26, of Hong Kong received second prize; and Richard Melkonian of the United Kingdom, 25, received third prize.

As first-prize winner, Sardaryan received both the AGBU Carnegie Hall Award and Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra (APO) Award. His piece, The Flowers of Golgotha, will premiere at a gala concert in May and will be performed at the annual AGBU Performing Artists in Concert at Carnegie Hall in December 2015. He will also be commissioned to write a 10-minute piece that will be performed by the APO during its 2016-17 season.

The Sayat Nova International Composition Competition is designed to introduce Armenian musical traditions to a wider audience. This year, in commemoration of centenary of the Armenian genocide, the competition asked composers to include in their submissions the poetry of Daniel Varoujan, one of the first victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Submissions arrived from various countries, including Russia, Switzerland and Brazil, as well as from 14 states. Sixty percent of the composers were not of Armenian descent. The jury judging the competition was made up of renowned seven artists — conductor of APO Eduard Topchjan, composer Yakov Yakulov, soprano Hasmik Papian, pianist Jenny Chai, composer Paul Méfano and composer Michel Petrossian — from Armenia, Austria, France, China and the United States. Poet Lola Koundakjian served as a consultant to the jury and Hayk Arsenyan, composer and artistic director of this year’s competition, advised on the selection of the AGBU Carnegie Hall Prize winner: “This project is one of the brightest examples of what the AGBU Performing Arts department is aiming to accomplish — to introduce Armenian traditional instruments to an international audience and to strengthen cultural connections between Armenia and the rest of the world,” says Arsenyan.

This year, the Sayat Nova International Composition Competition partnered with music company Vox Novus, which developed Music Avatar, a software that allowed all submissions and judging to take place online. Robert Voisey, the executive director of Vox Novus, was instrumental in the collaboration: “We are very proud to have worked with AGBU and contributed to making the competition inspirational and creative.”

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The works of the three prize winners, which includes music for the duduk, violin, piano and a mezzo soprano, will be showcased at the gala concert and award ceremony on May 11, at Symphony Space in New York. Ara Guzelimian, the provost and dean of the Juilliard School, will give the opening remarks at the gala.


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