Dr. Naira Babayan and Vasily Popov perform.

Celebrating Komitas’ 150th Anniversary in Washington


WASHINGTON — On Saturday, June 1, Dr. Naira Babayan and Vasily Popov presented a concert celebrating the legacy of one the founders of Armenian music, Komitas, at the Mansion at Strathmore. The sold-out event included patrons of the Armenian-American community of the greater Washington, DC area, as well as other music enthusiasts.

Babayan, an accomplished concert pianist and professor at the Levine Music School, was joined by cellist, Popov on stage for a musical program with works by Komitas, Sayat-Nova, and Aram Khachaturian. Following the opening pieces, Elegie and Kemancha by Sayat-Nova, the audience was enlivened by sacred pieces of Komitas, as well as Aram Khachaturian’s well-known compositions from “Gayane” ballet – Uzundara, Lullaby and Sabre Dance.

Active as a soloist, and chamber musician, Babayan has appeared in concert halls around the world. She has established an international reputation of a magnetic and passionate performer. She has performed in venues such a Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall in Yerevan, Armenia, State Conservatory Concert Hall, Ministry of Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Chamber concert halls with the State Chamber Orchestra in Yerevan, Armenia. She was a guest performer of the Union of Armenia in Moscow, and she won the first prize at the Moscow Music Festival in 2005, performing a program by Rachmaninoff and Scriabin. Other  performances include an invitation from the Concert Committee of Dubai at the Music Theatre Amadeus and Royal Concert Hall of the American University Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates as well as performances at the San-Lazzaro Hall of Mirrors in Venice, Italy, Armenian communities in San Diego and Los Angeles, and others.

Naira was awarded a full scholarship to the Tchaikovsky Music School for talented students in Yerevan, Armenia. She holds her Master’s of Arts Degree in Piano Performance from the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, and a second Masters of Arts from Gnessin Music Academy in Moscow, Russia, where she studied under Professor Gambaryan. Naira earned her Doctorate degree from the International Academy of Science and Art in Yerevan, Armenia.

Babayan is considered among many composers and musicologists to be the most famous living interpreter of piano performances of Armenian folkloric and classical repertoire. Her mentors were Edward Mirzoyan and Konstantin Orbelian.

Most recently Babayan has performed at the Steinway and Sons gallery on the famous Van Cliburn piano and she has two CD recordings of solo piano by Chopin, Debussy and Armenian composers. She has worked as a deputy director and chair of the Music Department of the Sebastian Cultural Center in Yerevan, Armenia. She also taught at the Trinity College of London in Dubai, UAE. Babayan is currently a full-time faculty member of the piano department at Levine Music in Washington.

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Cellist Vasily Popov maintains an active concert schedule including appearances as a soloist, recitalist and member of chamber ensembles in the concert halls in Europe, Japan, Russia and U.S.A. His CD’s are produced by Arte Nova Records, BMR, Excelsior, Intercount Music, Madacy Records, and Melodia labels. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia into a musical family, Popov started playing the cello at the age of seven. His teachers included cellists Natalia Gutman, Valentin Elin, Konstantin Kucherov, Anatoly Nikitin, Walter Nothas and Daniil Shafran. His performance style was influenced by the chamber music collaborations and studies with pianists Tamara Fidler and Elisso Virsaladze and flutist Andras Adorjan.

Popov serves on the cello and chamber music faculties at Levine Music in Washington, D.C. where he is also an associate chair of Chamber Music and Artistic Director and conductor of the Levine Chamber Orchestras. He leads various workshops and master classes, adjudicates national and international competitions.

— Mariam Khaloyan




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