Maurizio Redegoso Kharitian

Maurizio Redegoso Kharitian: ‘Discovering Armenia Was a Turning Point in My Life!’


YEREVAN-TURIN — Italian musician Maurizio Redegoso Kharitian (born in 1970 in Turin (Torino) to a Genoese singer/guitarist father and a French-Armenian dancer mother) has played various instruments since his childhood (piano, flute, violin). At Torino, Novara and Paris conservatory he studied viola and quartet. He founded a string quartet named after the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger, which win one first prize and three international second prizes. He performed with Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, European Union Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Bach Akademie Stuttgart, European Music Projet, etc. and soloist with Offerta Musicale Chamber Orchestra of Venice, Ensemble of Orchestra Rai, Orchestra “Stefano Tempia” di Torino. He also has made audio and video recordings for Rai Trade, Decca, Arion, Stradivarius, Real Sound, Nuova Era, Rai, Mediaset, Delta Video.

Maurizio, in your long professional activities, you have played different genres of music: classical, pop, jazz, ethnic, theatrical. Do they complement or clash with each other?

Although I only started studying my first instrument at the age of 10, I was lucky enough to listen a lot of music from different genres as a child because my father had a recording studio at home. I grew up with a variety of sounds and styles with me and that I found again later. Despite having classical training which was very important and which prevailed for a long time, I felt the need to step outside the rigid schemes of the academic world. To enter into the merits of the question, nothing can be totally improvised and research is required for any kind of musical expression that one wishes to address. Personally I am attracted by mixing genres, as long as you have awareness and respect for the origins of each tradition and then undertake the artistic path more in line with your talent.

You have performed the music of Ennio Morricone under the direction of the maestro himself. How was this cooperation?

It happened in 2013, on the occasion of many concerts dedicated to him as a tribute to his enormous career as a film scorer. I was part of the Rai National Symphony Orchestra. It was obviously a very emotional experience to play his fantastic music under his direction and despite his advanced age — he was 86 at the time. He conveyed great attention to every musical detail. I’ve played that repertoire dozens of other times but that circumstance represented a privilege to have received the deep humanity directly from whoever wrote them. Twenty years earlier with another orchestra I had played his “contemporary classical” compositions, very difficult and particular which did not reveal anything of his film style; instead recently I played some chamber music that was then used for some film work.

You also have participated in several editions of Pavarotti & Friends, accompanying the likes of Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Caetano Veloso, B. B. King, Lionel Richie and Deep Purple. Are there any special memories connected to those celebrities?

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First of all I remember the great excitement  those events because there was a big media movement around. I remember the great professionalism of all these great artists who made themselves available to duet with the great Luciano Pavarotti. As I said before about the cross pollination of musical genres, when there are great artists, everything is possible and right from the rehearsals one had the impression of speaking the same language. In general, I can say that every single artist of every edition of Pavarotti & Friends reminds me that behind every artistic expression there is, in addition to talent, a lot of sacrifice and hard work.

When did you first get acquainted with Armenian music?

My very first experience with Armenian music was listening to my mother’s voice singing me some traditional song. I was fascinated by the beauty of the very musical language. In the house there were also some audio cassettes that occasionally played. My direct experiences have been listening to the choirs of the Armenian Monks of the Mkhitarist Monastery of San Lazzaro in Venice which shocked me by their depth: the musical style was completely original and fascinating. And then, during my first trip to Armenia, after my mother’s death in 2007, I listened to all forms of musical expression: traditional, sacred, classical, ballet music as well the legendary sound of the duduk!

From where your maternal grandparents were?

My grandmother Alice Hanna was born in Alexandret, now in Turkey, and my grandfather, Arshavir, in Constantinople in 1912, but three years later, he lost his parents. He was soon drafted into the French army and was stationed in the Middle East and with his large family (ten children) toured a lot until arriving in Marseille at the 1960s. He left me four handwritten books in Armenian and one typed book in Turkish. I’d like to know what they contain and possibly publish them. The four manuscripts in Armenian are divided as follows. Title translated into a novel in French called Dea, based on a real life written by Arshavir Kharitian.” It consists of 387 pages and was finished in 1968. The story is about a French-Armenian family in Istanbul and begins with an economic disaster caused by the bad governance of the head of the family which forces a young woman to marry a merchant’s son. Through many adventures we also arrive at the publication of a book titled The Lonely Souls which will make a fortune and will also win an important prize.

Apparently, the sequel to the first, also entitled in French Le chemin en Lumiere, was written in 1969-70. My grandfather has also another book finished in 1970, with a title, and yet a fourth one, also untitled. The total of these books is 1527 pages.

And your mother was a ballet dancer.

My mother Sonia was born in Aleppo in 1945. She studied in Marseille and soon began working in a classical ballet company, then also modern dance and toured Greece, Egypt, Lebanon and Italy where in 1968 she met my father in Milan. The following year they got married and after I was born, she stopped dancing but continued to do some choreography.

In 2007 you discovered Armenia. Was it a turning point in your life or/and career?

This answer is likely to be very long! It could not have been otherwise. I really wanted to make that journey to research my origins as a way of honoring my mother. Everything I experienced in those few days immediately merged with what my mother represented for me, starting with an oriental way of taking life that has always put me in touch with ancient times. Hard to explain. I tried it with music which certainly underwent a profound change: the way I play my viola now is directly influenced by the instruments and the voices I heard in Armenia. To feel deeply Armenian, when I returned to Italy, I immediately started the procedures to be able to officially use my mother’s surname, Kharitian. For the rest, what I have created in the last sixteen years, demonstrate the character of my work dedicated to Armenian culture.

With actor and director Stefano Zanoli you founded Project Nor Arax, which aims to be a permanent artistic laboratory dealing with music, literature, cinema and more of Armenian culture and beyond. Please tell us about Nor Arax.

It was founded in 2009. So far, we have recorded two CDs, among them “Komitas 100/80” (2015) dedicated to a double anniversary, that of the Armenian Genocide in the centennial year and to the death of Komitas Vardapet and “The Lost Song of the Ark” (2019) precisely to recover the originality of certain traditions. We have designed, presented and produced over 80 performances, concerts, lectures, seminars. And I resumed the activity within my old love, the string quartet! In fact, the Nor Arax String Quartet was born and is becoming a reference point for the knowledge and dissemination of Armenian music. The purpose is to unite the quintessential classical formation with various typical Oriental instruments; in short, everything to revive in the most authentic and original way possible, a heritage inextricably linked by a red thread from the ancients to us.

You are actively in touch with your colleagues in Armenia. What are your upcoming Armenia-related projects?

Let’s say that the organizational work allowed me to have a network of contacts in Armenia, especially with the Yerevan Conservatory, the Komitas Museum and the Armenian Contemporary Music Forum. But I also have contacts with other Armenian composers who reside abroad. I was pleased to be able to premier their works in Italy and to introduce the Italian audience to the common thread that links the past with the present of the Armenian musical tradition. I am working on the musical part for a trio made up of viola, piano and duduk which will make its debut next autumn but above all I would like to make a film/documentary dream come true. For this I am waiting for funding! And then, after so many invitations from friends, I started writing a book that will talk about my family, musical and spiritual story in Armenian key.

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