Vararakn/Varanda/Mrakats Choirs of Nagorno Karabagh: Fortress City: Armenian Songs from Nagorno Karabag

Vararakn/Varanda/Mrakats Choirs of Nagorno Karabagh: Fortress City: Armenian Songs from Nagorno Karabag
Title: Fortress City: Armenian Songs from Nagorno Karabag
Label: CD Baby

Fortress City: Armenian Songs from Nagorno Karabagh Recorded on location in Shushi, Nagorno Karabagh Republic Performed by the Vararakn State Choir of Artakh/Varanda Youth Choir of Shushi/Mrakats Chamber Choir of Karabagh Produced by Raffi Meneshian Executive Producer: Tufenkian Foundation, Inc. This CD was made possible by a generous grant from the Tufenkian Foundation, Inc. The Recording This special recording of Armenian songs from Nagorno-Karabagh paints a vivid picture of local choral life, set against the proud backdrop of a land that has been revered by Armenians for hundreds of year. The men, women, and children of Nagorno-Karabagh have overcome extremely difficult conditions recently to create music with radiant choral intonations. Indeed, the boys and girls/men and women of Vararakn, Varanda, and Mrakats had grown accustomed to hearing not only the melody of song, but, the whizzing of bullets during wartime. We might say that the parents of each choir member fought to liberate the borders of their homeland, while their children became the liberators of Armenian song and culture. Recorded inside Shushi's Ganach Zham Church in just five days, Fortress City gives the listener a sampling of each choir's repertoire. All three groups have a broad scope of songs in their catalog from which to choose. Their individual concerts in Nagorno-Karabagh, Armenia, and abroad have generated enthusiastic responses from appreciative fans who have marveled at their dedication to the art of Armenian song. This recording presents a wide-ranging program of classical and modern choral works from Armenia's finest composers. Included in this program are works by composer and ethnomusicologist Komitas Vartabed (1867-1935), Makar Yekmalian (1856-1905), Kristapor Kara-Mourza (1854-1902), and Parsegh Ganatchian (1885-1967). Then, there are the medieval hymns and chants of Grigor Narekatsi (10c.) and Nerses Shnorhali (12c.). Modern composers and arrangers such as Robert Petrossian (1930), Garo Zakarian (1895-1967), and Yervant Yerganian (1951) are represented as well. The musical selections offered here present the broad spectrum of choral works from the 10th through 20th centuries in areas of Armenian spiritual, folk, and village-lyrical spheres. Consider Fortress City your formal invitation to the rich culture and tremendous will of Nagorno-Karabagh's Armenians. -Zakar Keshishian About the Artists Founded in 1990, the Vararakn State Choir of Artsakh is based out of Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR). Vararakn contributed two songs to the highly successful 'Music of Armenia' CD series released on the Celestial Harmonies record label in 1997. Led by choir director Nina Grigoryan, Vararakn specializes in the music of Komitas in addition to Western European and modern works. The group consists of graduates from the Stepanakert School of Music (NKR) and the Komitas Conservatory (Armenia). In 2003, Vararakn was awarded a gold medal in Barcelona, Spain at an international contest-festival of national choruses. The group has also performed in Armenia, Italy, and France. The Varanda Youth Choir of Shushi was formed in 1992 by Zakar Keshishian, just days after the recapture of Shushi from Azerbaijani forces. With over 130 current members in four different age divisions, Varanda has been designated as the official youth choir of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR). Varanda has a musical repertoire of over 200 songs and is the recipient of new compositions by well-known Armenian poets and composers. Aside from being the subject of two documentaries, Varanda has routinely been featured on Armenian radio and television. Varanda is traditionally in session during the summer season and has given concerts throughout Nagorno-Karabagh, Armenia, and Lebanon to critical acclaim. Mrakats Chamber Choir of Nagorno-Karabagh was founded in 1999 by it's director, M.S. Mesropyan. Since then, Mrakats has maintained an active performance schedule throughout Nagorno-Karabagh and Armenia. The group's trademark repertoire includes pieces by Komitas, Kara-Mourza, Ganatchian, Zakarian in addition to their knowledge of Western classical music. This CD is the debut recording of the Mrakats Chamber Choir of Nagorno-Karabagh. SHUSHI: FORTRESS-CITY OF KARABAGH Introduction Found in southern Transcaucasia, Nagorno-Karabagh is a tiny, mountainous enclave that was largely unknown to Westerners until 1988, when it burst onto the international scene amidst the rapid demise of the Soviet Union. At that time, the enclave's Armenian majority sought to secede from Soviet Azerbaijan and join neighboring Armenia, citing discriminatory rule and their own right to national self-determination. They did so by challenging authorities with bold, unprecedented displays of activism-gathering thousands of signatures, holding mass rallies, petitioning Moscow for redress-followed by massive solidarity efforts in Armenia, where non-violent protests grew in size to nearly 1 million. However, when Azerbaijan responded with violent repression of it's Armenian inhabitants, ethnic grievances quickly spiraled into bloody confrontation pitting Armenian partisans against Azerbaijani occupation forces. With the unraveling of Soviet power in 1991, the Karabagh struggle became an all-out war, involving not only Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also neighboring Turkey, Russia, and Iran. During the next three years, the war would claim thousands of lives, tens of thousands of refugees on each side, and bring widespread physical and economic hardship to the region. After driving out Azerbaijan in 1994, Karabagh's Armenians agreed to a tentative cease-fire, which holds to this day, and which has enabled them to build close ties with Armenia and establish the trappings of independent statehood. Still technically at war and under blockade, Karabagh's Armenians now struggle to rebuild their land, to restore dignity to their lives, and to create a hopeful future for themselves and their children. Known as 'Karabagh' since the 15th century, the enclave is named apparently for the fertility of the land; ghara meaning black and bagh garden or vineyard. Armenians often refer to it by it's medieval Armenian name, Artsakh. For centuries, Karabagh has been populated mainly by Armenians, who maintained relative autonomy despite living amidst turbulence and instability: The enclave has repeatedly been a marchland and a bone-of-contention between many competing empires. Beginning in the Middle Ages, Sasanid Persia annexed the region to it's province of Arran (Albania), extending from the northern banks of the Kura River to the Caspian Sea. In subsequent centuries, Karabagh was successively annexed by Arab, Seljuk Turkish, Mongol, Turkmen, Ottoman Turkish, Safavid Persian, and Czarist Russian empires, until it was sovietized in 1923. Despite it's history of subordination, Karabagh possesses marked features, such as fragmented relief and long-held martial traditions that have made direct occupation difficult for outsiders. This has partly buffered the region from social and demographic upheavals occurring elsewhere in Transcaucasia. Indeed, while a large Muslim presence consolidated on Karabagh's peripheries, a compactly settled Armenian presence continued through most of the Middle Ages and on to the modern era. Until the 19th century, authority was maintained largely through satrapies whereby Armenian princes (meliks) paid fealty to Muslim khans in return for the right administer their feudal principalities. Even with the advent of Soviet authority, the enclave's Armenian population never dipped below 85% in most areas, despite Azerbaijan's systematic attempts to tip the demographic balance. Shushi: From Antiquity to Modern Times One of Transcaucasia's oldest cities, Shushi sits atop the eastern plateau of the Karabagh mountain chain, surrounded by deep gorges on three sides. Often called the 'Fortress City,' Shushi has in fact served as a fortress-bot

1.1 Kaghhan (Harvest Song)
1.2 Khumar (Dazed)
1.3 Keghchgagan Yerkeru Shark 1 (Peasant Song Cycle 1)
1.4 Zar Zenke (Jingle- Jangle)
1.5 Surb Surb 1 (Sactus)
1.6 Chinar Es (Stand Tall)
1.7 Keghchgagan Yerkeru Shark 2 (Peasant Song Cycle 2)
1.8 Hov Arek (Cool Breeze)
1.9 Garun a (It's Spring)
1.10 Hayr Mer (Lord's Prayer)
1.11 Surb Surb 2 (Sanctus)
1.12 Govya Yerusaghem Ezter (Praise the Lord, Jerusalem)
1.13 Norahrash Psakavor (Wondrous Crownbearer)
1.14 Aravot Lusaber (Morning That Brings the Light)
1.15 Ov Zarmanali (O Amazing)
1.16 Aysor Dzaynn Hayrakan (Today the Voice of the Father)
1.17 Aysor Tsentsan (Today Rejoice)
1.18 Nor Tsaghik (New Flower)
1.19 Gatsek Tesek (Go See)
1.20 Derigo Hoy Nar (Hey There Derigo)
1.21 Hayots Yerk U Par (Armenian Song and Dance)
1.22 Nanor
1.23 Kali Yerk (Threshing Song)
1.24 Alagyaz Yev Kezi Mernim (I Would Die for the Mountain Alagyaz)
1.25 Garoun (Spring)
1.26 Gishern Unkav (Night Fell)
1.27 Azgayin Orhnerg (Armenian National Blessing)

Vararakn/Varanda/Mrakats Choirs of Nagorno Karabagh: Fortress City: Armenian Songs from Nagorno Karabag

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