By Robert Baker
WESTWOOD, Calif. (UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music) — Nine years ago, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Armenian Music Program was started with a single student ensemble-in-residence. On Tuesday, May 31 at 12:00 p.m., the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music will host A Day of Armenian Music – Music of Connections. The concert will feature two student ensembles, world-renowned artists, workshops and Armenian music in classical, folk and jazz styles.
“It is really heartening to see how much the program has grown,” said Movses Pogossian, the founding director of the Armenian Music Program and professor of violin. “To begin with such a modest ensemble and to now embrace the scope that we have is gratifying.” For Pogossian, the real thrill is in sharing a full range of artistic cultural forms, from folk to jazz to classical.
Tuesday’s concert is the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of ambitious work in programming, community outreach and global touring. At the center has been the VEM Ensemble, consisting of the VEM string quartet and a vocalist, composed of UCLA students. VEM, which means “rock” in Armenian, has performed around Los Angeles, North America and Europe to critical acclaim. Most recently, VEM was featured on Modulation Necklace: New Music from Armenia by the Naxos-distributed label New Focus Recordings.
VEM will be joined by the UCLA Armenian Music Ensemble. The ensemble is composed of students who enroll in the two-quarter class; the course is open to any UCLA student regardless of their major. Students who enroll learn to play Armenian music on traditional Armenian instruments.