Armenian News Network / Groong


THE STARTLING INNER WORLD OF COMPOSER SUREN ZAKARIAN

Armenian News Network / Groong
September 27, 2005
Entertainment Wire

By Sahan Arzruni

NEW YORK, NEW YORK


Eerie.  Desolate.  Haunting.  Perturbing.

Those are a few of the words that came to mind as I listened to Suren
Zakarian's "Island of Lamentation," performed by the New Juilliard
Ensemble under the baton of Joel Sachs at New York's Lincoln Center on
Saturday, September 24.  As Dr. Sachs remarked after the concert, "You
wouldn't want to be in his mind as he was composing it."

One of Armenia's "middle generation" composers, Suren Zakarian is a
musician of considerable note in his native country.  Six years ago he
was brought to the attention of Dr. Sachs, and Sachs has championed
Suren's music ever since.  Last month, he arranged for Zakarian's
string quartet to be played as part of the Museum of Modern Art's
"Summergarden" series.

"Island of Lamentation" is an expressionistic work, revelatory of the
composer's inner self -- his subconscious being.  Suren's creative
approach is systematic and precise, employing individual pitches --
single sonorities -- to produce intense tonal effects in the
listener's ear.  The method is to music what pointillism is to
painting.  In this way, Suren's music is reminiscent of the work of
composer Anton Webern.

A Zakarian composition is also concise, and listening to it requires a
certain concentration: a commitment to cracking its hard outer shell,
in order to penetrate to the kernel within.  Inevitably, that kernel
is fecund with peculiar beauty and sensory delight, and repeated
listenings clarify and enhance its meaning.

"Island of Lamentation" was composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble in
2001 as a gesture of thanks for its 1999 performance of Mr. Zakarian's
"Dedicatio."  It has since been performed elsewhere on numerous
occasions.  The instrumentalists for this most recent outing -- all
students at The Juilliard School -- were fully prepared for the
extraordinary ensemble work required by the piece.

The balance of the wonderfully imaginative September 24 program
included compositions by American composers Kenji Bunch and Jack
Beeson (who has used Saroyan's "The Daring Young Man on the Flying
Trapeze," as well as "My Heart's in the Highlands" as fodder for
opera), by Ukrainian-Israeli composer Valentine Bibik, and by New
Zealander John Psathas.


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Sahan Arzruni is a concert pianist and an ethnomusicologist. He has
toured China and Vietnam, performing and giving master classes, and
has delivered a series of lectures on Arshak II at the request of the
San Francisco Opera Guild.
Redistribution of Groong articles, such as this one, to any other media, including but not limited to other mailing lists and Usenet bulletin boards, is strictly prohibited without prior written consent from
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