YEREVAN/VIENNA — All eyes this summer were on the Olympic games, where Armenia competed successfully in several disciplines. Some weeks earlier, another international event took place, albeit not followed by so many millions of television viewers, but in which the Armenian contestants walked away with gold, and not only once. The venue was Vienna (this year, due to pandemic conditions, the contest was online), and the discipline, music. It was an event with competition, but dedicated to the spirit of cooperation, mutual development and peace.
The World Peace Choral Festival is indeed a special kind of festival, which brings together choirs, both young and adult, in musical education and performance. The aim is to provide participants the opportunity to engage in workshops led by world-class musicians, thus developing their own talents, and to broaden their cultural understanding through exchange with choirs of many other nations. They also engage in competition, though that is not the ultimate or central focus of the initiative. This year, top awards went to the Little Singers of Armenia and their founder Tigran Hekekyan.
Hekekyan received the Outstanding Conductor Award, and the Little Singers got the Gold Medal and the First Prize of Grand Prix, recognized as the best and absolute winner among the choirs that won the Grand Prix in different nominations in the second round. Other choirs from Armenia also won high recognition. The Geghard Vocal Ensemble earned a Gold Medal and Grand Prix in the category of vocal ensembles, under the direction of Anahit Papayan, who received an Excellent Choir Conductor award. Sona Hovhannisyan was honored with the same prize with the Hover Chamber Choir, which won a Gold Medal in the mixed adult choir group. And the Arar Choir, conducted by Gor Melqumyan, won a Gold Medal in the Female Choir competition. The jury consists of world-famous musicians and music educators who judge contestants in 11 categories. The 14 choirs who won 1st place in their categories were selected to enter competition for the Grand Prix; winners of the Grand Prix receive €3,000 for first place, €2,000 for second and €1,000 for third.
Armenia’s Cultural Ambassadors
The Little Singers of Armenia are often referred to as the cultural ambassadors for the country, and that is not only metaphorical. In 2001, Tigran Hekekyan was nominated Cultural Ambassador of Europe by the European Federation of Choirs. Hekekyan, artistic director and conductor of the choir, founded it in 1992. He is president of the Armenian Little Singers International Association as well. Over the past three decades, the young singers have performed in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, presenting a vast repertoire in many languages, with technical and artistic excellence. Hekekyan has twice received honors from the President of Armenia, the medal of Movses Khorenatsi in 1996 and the honorary title of Prominent Educator in 2010. He has served as a jury member in international competitions and has lectured on the art of Armenian choral music. In addition, he and the ALS International Association have organized and directed music festivals, among them Ashtarak (1993), Yerevan (1996), United by Song (2000), Singing Armenia (from 2001), the Song of Unity (2004, 2006), and the Komitas Festival 2017. They have assisted numerous choruses in Armenia, including in schools. (See https://www.als.am/en)
Music Capital Vienna