Prof. Movses Pogossian

Tekeyan Sponsors VEM Ensemble 2019 Tour to Detroit, Montreal, Boston and LA

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WESTWOOD, Calif. — The VEM Ensemble is making a North American tour with performances in Detroit (March 27), Montreal (March 29), Boston (March 31), and Glendale (April 27) and Altadena, California (May 19), organized with the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada. A new musical piece based on the poetry of Vahan Tekeyan will receive its premiere during this tour and musical masterpieces by Gomidas, Khachaturian, and Western classical composers will comprise the rest of the program. The concerts are sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada, with support from the UCLA Armenian Music program at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

The VEM Ensemble consists of the VEM Graduate String Quartet, in residence at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and a singer, currently mezzo-soprano Danielle Segen. VEM means “rock” in Armenian, symbolizing the strength and power of this ensemble to bring to live music written by prominent and emerging Armenian composers.

The ensemble is the cornerstone of the newly created Armenian Music Program at UCLA, which, thanks to generous donor support as well as artistic guidance of the Lark Musical Society, endeavors to raise awareness and celebrate the richness and diversity of Armenian musical tradition. As part of their studies, members of the quartet strive to cultivate an appreciation and passion for Armenian music throughout the community through musical performances, music education, outreach services, and a series of collaborations with composers to create new works dedicated to and enriching the Armenian cultural heritage.

The VEM Quartet, coached by its Artistic Director Movses Pogossian, has worked with such musicians as Kim Kashkashian, Seth Knopp, David Starobin, Nickolas Kitchen, and Tigran Mansurian. In his review of their performance at the Incontri in Terra di Sierra Festival in Tuscany, Italy, critic Laurence Vittes writes: “The evening’s most memorable music was made by the VEM Quartet…who laid out Eduard Mirzoyan’s String Quartet with a feline, subtle grace that touched hearts with its gentle melodic content and long-lined eloquence.”

Artashes Kartalyan: Tekeyan Triptych

An exciting world premiere to be presented during this 2019 tour is of the recently completed Tekeyan Triptych by Artashes Kartalyan, commissioned by the Tekeyan Cultural Association in 2018. This is a remarkable composition structured around three poems by Vahan Tekeyan (1875-1945), widely regarded as the “Prince of Armenian Poetry.” Its poetic choices, focusing on two love poems followed by a meditation on what one leaves behind, combined with intricate musicality, promises to make the Tekeyan Triptych one of the composer’s masterpieces.

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The first song opens with a poem describing with utmost subtlety the depth of the poet’s love (surprising for one who was known as a recluse). In it, he laments how not one of his loves realizes the extent of his affection, leaving his love unrequited. Over five stanzas Tekeyan expounds on the intensity of his love and the sad fate of its remaining hidden within him. Kartalyan gives the viola here an insistent pitch (D) to establish the steadfast nature of the feeling that permeates the entire poem. The pitch further ushers in the ritornello, which time and again repeats itself, first in the introduction and then between verses, to reveal the poet’s ambient and intense torment. Finally, Kartalyan allows himself a liberal approach to the fourth and final lines of each verse. There he employs free and ornamental polyphonic elements to capture Tekeyan’s concluding thoughts for each stanza.

The second poem pines. Tekeyan masterfully describes, in four stanzas of three lines each, the calm but ardent wish to love another soul as it were one’s own private sky. The text elicits from Kartalyan a beautiful melody, very much in the tradition of Armenian folkloric music. And yet it is audaciously brave in its modulations and tonal inflections, imbued with qualities not readily imaginable in the typical monodic traditions germane to the Armenian Melos. In that way he captures the intensity of the poets wish emanating from the recesses of his soul.

The final poem in the Triptych is a personal accounting of the gains and losses in the poets own life. Here Tekeyan employs the sonnet form, which in Armenian traditions is a poem with two quatrains followed by two tercets. Tekeyan asks himself what has remained of balance in his life and answers immediately for himself: “only that which I have given away to others.” Revisiting the loves and sympathies he has spread to others, in his final assessment he finds himself in the profound solace of having “imbibed the sun.” Kartalyan’s music adds a pensive privacy to the words, in which he imagines the poet reflecting alone at his balance-sheet. Each verse is treated distinctly, forged with individual musical style. Kartalyan ranges from fragmental polyphony (verse 2), to rhythmic importuning (verse 3), and finally to a confident resolution, employing a Bach-like walking bass. The opening musical idea is repeated in summary to bring this unique textual-musical arithmetic to a kind of final balance.

In addition to the Triptych, recognized masterworks by Gomidas upon his 150th anniversary of birth, Khachaturian, Mirzoyan, Hovhannes, and Schubert will be performed. The VEM Ensemble during its March trip will provide outreach performances at the AGBU Alex and Marie Manoogian School (Detroit), St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School (Watertown, MA), and in Montreal.

The VEM Ensemble

 

Members of the VEM Ensemble

VEM was established in 2013 by artistic director Prof. Movses Pogossian. Pogossian made his American debut as a violinist with the Boston Pops in 1990, about which Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe wrote: “There is freedom in his playing, but also taste and discipline. It was a fiery, centered, and highly musical performance…” Prizewinner of several important competitions, including the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Competition, he extensively performed as soloist and recitalist in Europe, Northern America, and Asia. He was one of the 2016/17 Artists in Residence of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He is Artistic Director of the acclaimed Dilijan Chamber Music Series, currently in its 14th season.

Champion of new music, Pogossian has premiered over 70 works. In Los Angeles, Movses Pogossian frequently performs on Monday Evening Concerts, and is a recipient of the 2011 Forte Award, given for outstanding contributions to the promotion of new music. Pogossian’s discography includes the recently released Complete Sonatas and Partitas by J. S. Bach (New Focus Recordings), as well as solo violin CDs “Blooming Sounds” and “In Nomine,” and Kurtág’s “Kafka Fragments,” with soprano Tony Arnold.

Since earning his advanced degrees from the Komitas Conservatory in Armenia and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music in Moscow, Pogossian has held teaching positions at Duquesne, Bowling Green, Wayne State, and SUNY Buffalo Universities. Deeply committed to musical education, Movses Pogossian is currently Professor of Violin at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He proudly participates in the Music for Food project, which raises awareness of the hunger problem faced by a large percent of the populations and gives the opportunity to experience the powerful role music can play as a catalyst for change.

VEM violinist Ji Eun Hwang was born in Korea and has performed as a soloist and chamber musician across United States and South Korea. She began her music studies at an early age and studied in the Preparatory school of Korea National University of Art and in Seoul National University with a Bachelor’s degree in violin performance. After then, she studied with an Artist Diploma in violin performance at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University with Professor Mark Kaplan and Ik-Hwan Bae with a full scholarship. She attended Tanglewood Music Festival, Sarasota Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, Texas Music Festival with full scholarships and Pontlevoy music festival in France. Her musical development has been furthered in masterclasses with Mihaela Martin, Patinka Kopec, Samuel Rhodes, Yael Weiss, Ani Kavafian, Pamela Frank, Mauricio Fuks, and Lucie Robert. In the past year, she has been the featured performer with many solo and chamber recitals and won several violin competitions. She played at the Yurim promising artist recital and the Young San young artist recital, and performed with the Gwangju Symphony Orchestra and City of Mokpo Symphony Orchestra. Since 2012, she has joined Sejong Soloists as a guest artist and she is a principal violinist of the Sejong City Philharmonic Orchestra. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music in violin performance at Herb Alpert School of Music, UCLA with Professor Movses Pogossian.

Aiko Jimena Richter is originally from Baltimore, Maryland and joined VEM in 2018. She has been a fellow at major festivals including the National Orchestral Institute, Domaine Forget Academy, Festival Napa Valley, and Kent/Blossom Music Festival, during which she performed with the Cleveland Orchestra. She is also featured on the 2015 Naxos label recording of Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1 as a member of the NOI festival orchestra. As a soloist and chamber musician, she has performed in masterclasses for Gil Shaham, Noah Bendix-Balgley, Ani Kavafian, Brooklyn Rider, and the Kronos Quartet among others. Aiko earned her B.M. at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill as a student of Nicholas DiEugenio and is currently pursuing her M.M. at UCLA with Movses Pogossian and Varty Manouelian.

Violist Morgan O’Shaughnessey has performed live on RAI Radio 3 at Palazzo Quirinale for the President of the Italian Republic. He has presented several recitals of modern Italian works at Teatro la Fenice in Venice as a part of the festival lo spirito della musica di venezia, as well as recorded an album of the complete chamber music of Gino Gornini in collaboration with the Giorgio Cini Foundation, which was released on the Tactus label. He performs on a fine viola by Vincenzo Cavani di Spilamberto, and a bow by Darrell Hanks of Ashland, Oregon. His extensive discography with legendary producer Sylvia Massy includes string arrangements for Johnny Depp, Rihanna, and Soilwork. He holds a BM from San Francisco Conservatory, where he studied with Jodi Levitz and members of the Kronos Quartet. His other musical interests include the Scottish highland bagpipes, Swedish nyckelharpa, and Quebecois fiddle music. A passionate advocate for community involvment in music and art, O’Shaughnessey is the artistic director for Springsart Series: a non-profit community concert series that produces accomplished regional artists in interactive artistic community events in a yurt deep in the forest near Ashland, Oregon. Visit www.moshalto.com for more information on upcoming concert engagements and album releases.

Jason Pegis, named “a true talent” by Montreal’s Le Devoir, started cello lessons at age 16 and holds a Bachelor’s of Music from Willamette University where he studied with Jason Duckles and Valdine Mishkin, and a Master’s of Music from McGill University where he studied with Matt Haimovitz. While working on his Bachelor’s, he joined the school’s Waller Piano Trio, which made news as the first chamber group from Oregon to become national finalists of the 2014 MTNA Young Artist Chamber Music Competition. He has seen much success in solo competitions as well; in 2013 and 2016 he won the Willamette University Concerto Competitions, and in 2015 winning the Eugene Symphony Young Artist Competition and Outstanding Cellist Award, after which he appeared as a soloist with the orchestra for two outdoor concerts for audiences of thousands. He also received the 2016 Zodiac Music Festival Young Artist Award, numerous instrumental scholarships from Mu Phi Epsilon, grants from the Williamson Foundation for Music, and an 1880 Neuner-Hornsteiner cello loan from the Carlsen Cello Foundation. In 2017, he became a finalist of the McGill Concerto Competition, and held a principal cello position of the McGill Symphony Orchestra. Jason has performed chamber music with artists like Johannes Moser, Axel Strauss, Victor Fournelle-Blain, Neal Stulberg, and Denis Bouriakov. He currently studies with Antonio Lysy in Los Angeles where he has started his Doctorate of Musical Arts and string teaching assistantship at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music.

Praised for possessing “extraordinary expressivity, and a beautiful voice” (Long Beach Gazette), Danielle Segen is an emerging talent in the Los Angeles music scene. Danielle earned her Master of Music degree at University of California Los Angeles, where she studied with Juliana Gondek. At UCLA she was seen regularly on the opera stage with past appearances including Prince Charming in “Cendrillon,” Dorabella in “Cosí fan tutte,” and the titular role in both “Tragedy of Carmen” and the West Coast premiere of William Bolcom’s “Lucrezia.”

Equally at home singing new compositions as she is performing from the standard repertoire of opera and art song, Danielle has been sought after to workshop, record, and perform new works. Most recently she collaborated with composer Jeff Kryka to record the theme music for “Traces of the Brush,” a critically acclaimed documentary on world renowned Chinese art historian and calligrapher Fu Shen, directed by Eros Zhao. With the VEM String Quartet Segen has enjoyed international success, performing at the Komitas Chamber Music Hall in Yerevan, Armenia as well as in the Dilijan Chamber Music Series at Zipper Hall. This upcoming year will see Danielle on concert stages across the U.S. and internationally with VEM performing Armenian art song arrangements, as well as world premieres of a new song cycle for mezzo-soprano and string quartet by Artashes Kartalyan and a new string quartet arrangement of Tigran Mansurian’s “Four Hayrens.”

VEM will perform at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27 cosponsored with St. John Armenian Church at its Recreational Center (22001 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield MI), with free admission and reception; 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 29 at the Tekeyan Centre, 825 Manoogian St., Saint-Laurent, Canada with reception (for tickets call 514 747-6680); 1 p.m., Sunday, March 31 cosponsored with Holy Trinity Armenian Church at 145 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass.; 7:30 pm Saturday, April 27 cosponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the Tekeyan Cultural Association and Abril Bookstore, at the latter’s site, 415 E. Broadway, Glendale, Calif. (for tickets, call 818 243-4112 or go to itsmyseat.com/abrilbooks; and 6 pm Sunday, May 19 hosted by the TCA Pasadena-Glendale Chapter at the TCA Beshgeturian Center (1901 N. Allen Ave., Altadena, Calif.).

For a sample performance, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdGXmv8YIyc .

For any general questions, email tcadirector@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

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