Music Projects 2016

Anahit Tsitsikyan Music School Celebrates New Instruments

Yerevan, April 25, 2016 – In the presence of Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, students, teachers, parents and guests of the Anahit Tsitsikyan Music School celebrated the new wind instruments which had arrived weeks before, with a concert. Following a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the 1915 genocide, a young girl opened the recital with a piano solo. She and her family had fled war-torn Syria last year and had found a new home in Yerevan. Other students, accompanied by teachers, presented a broad spectrum of their music work; as instrumental soloists or in ensembles, as solo singers or in choirs, they performed works from traditional Armenian folk music as well as classical works from Armenia and Europe. Of special interest were the clarinetist and one canon player, because they were performing on some of the new instruments. As principal Diana Hovhannisyan related in discussion before the concert, not all the new instruments could be presented, because there had been no instruction offered for trumpet, saxophone or flute – for the simple reason that such instruments had been lacking. She was confident, however, that by the next visit a wind ensemble would be on stage. The enthusiasm, joy and pride of the students was immense. A special treat was offered when the 5-year-old Volodya Sargsyan, who also sings in the mixed chorus, performed solo on his drum.
Bild 10 Volodya
Volodya, the 5-year-old drummer in his element

Diana Hovhannisyan as well as Jemma Safaryan, Ayo! Project Manager, confirmed that the new instruments had given both students and teachers enthusiasm and excitement.

A Piano for the Music School in Gegashen

Yerevan, April 26, 2016 – Gegashen is a small village about 40 kilometers from Yerevan. But, like many Armenian villages, it has its own music school, where children and youth can take music lessons, for a small monthly fee. Although the 4 Euro fee is considerable for many low-income families, the school is popular and is becoming an important local institution. The principal of the school, Mariam Kazaryan, had heard about the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation and its support for music education in Armenia, and had travelled to Yerevan to meet the Weissbachs. Her main request was a contribution for a piano for the recital hall in the school. As an accomplished pianist, she had looked for and found a good, second-hand instrument for a reasonable price. She was happy to learn that the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation could help out, and arrangements were made for the purchase. In May the donation arrived, and soon after the piano was delivered to the school. [See update of July 9, 2016]

Mirak-Weissbach Foundation Mediates Donation
of Musical Scores to Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan

Yerevan, April 26, 2016 – During their visit to Armenia this year, the Weissbachs were warmly welcomed by Professor Mher Navoyan und Rector Shahin Shahinyan at the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory.
Bild 11 - Komitas-Statue
Komitas statue in front of the Conservatory in Yerevan

Days earlier a collection of valuable musical scores from the estate of the Wiesbaden pianist and conductor Bernhard Scheidt had arrived in Yerevan, transported overland from Germany. With curiosity and interest, they listened to the story behind the generous donation, which they received with appreciation and gratitude. In October 2015, Bernhard Scheidt passed away after a long and active life with music. From his work as a pianist, conductor and especially music teacher, he had assembled a huge library of music literature, above all for piano and orchestra. His long-term companion, Sabine Meerwein, who is a professional singer, had wondered what to do with this material. She certainly did not want it to end up in a flea market or lay unused in some storage room. In December 2015, she read an article about the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation in the Wiesbadener Kurier, and learned of its work with music schools. She contacted the Weissbachs, to see if these scores might be of interest for institutions of higher learning in Armenia. After discussion with the Armenian Embassy in Berlin, Armenian musicians in Germany and Armenia and, of course, with the Conservatory in Yerevan, it became clear that these musical scores would be appropriate for an institution like the Komitas Conservatory and its high level education program. Ms. Meerwein then decided to give the scores to the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation, where they were ordered, catalogued and finally delivered to be packaged and shipped to the Conservatory as a donation.
Bild 12 Noten in Wiesbaden abgeholt
Palette with music scores being loaded in Wiesbaden

Rector Shaen Shahinyan and Professor Mher Navoyan, who is Vice Rector, were eager to learn all about Bernhard Scheidt and Sabine Meerwein. The musical scores are to be placed in a special section of the Conservatory’s large library, under their names. Bernhard Scheidts professional career is indeed impressive. In a short biographical sketch, Sabine Meerwein summarized the essence as follows:
“His outstanding activity as a teacher lives on in numerous students in their public performances and concerts today. Bernhard Scheidt’s legacy lies in the transmission and communication of the German and European interpretation tradition, which he was able to pass on to his students, thanks to his personal acquaintance with extraordinary artists like Maria Callas, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pablo Casals, Wilhelm Kempff and Pierre Monteux.”
Now we can join the directors of the Komitas Conservatory in Yerevan in adding that Bernhard Scheidt continues to transmit this tradition through musical scores of works of great European composers, bequeathed to Armenian students in Yerevan.

New Instruments for Anahit Tsitsikian Music School

Students at the Anahit Tsitsikian music school

Students at the Anahit Tsitsikian music school lost no time in trying out the new wind instruments that arrived in March 2016.

Students at the Anahit Tsitsikian music school
Students at the Anahit Tsitsikian music school
In March 2016 a shipment of eight shiny new wind instruments arrived at the Anahit Tsitsikian music school in Yerevan. The flutes, clarinets, trumpets and saxophones – two each – were purchased with contributions made to a crowd-fundraising drive launched by AYO! The Mirak-Weissbach Foundation, informed of the campaign by the Fund for Armenian Relief (http://farusa.org), contributed $1,000.00 to the effort.

The Anahit Tsitsikian school was founded in 1987, and was named after the famous violinist, in 2007. Located in Yerevan, it is one of the few such schools serving students from the local community. Over the past decades, it has gained a reputation for quality, as many of its students have won awards, and gone on to advanced study in Armenia and abroad. In 2014, the U.S. Embassy’s organization Helping Hands and the Fuller Center for Housing Armenia undertook a major project to renovate the recital hall, constructing a completely new floor for the room used for concerts. Although the school had pianos and string instruments, wind instruments were lacking and most students from the local community who attend this school are not able to purchase their own. At the end of 2014 AYO! (https://weareayo.org/music-school/) announced a campaign to raise funds to buy the instruments. Commenting on the just-completed recital hall renovation, AYO! wrote, “The school now has a beautiful performance space” and “tremendously dedicated students and staff. What could be missing? Instruments!”

With a stroke of good luck, the organizers learned of a huge sale of wind instruments on the internet, and managed to purchase the instruments at great savings. To complete the furnishing of the recital hall, the campaign collected more funds, earmarked for the purchase of 120 chairs, for family and friends who will attend the concerts of the school’s students.
Anahit Tsitsikian
Anahit Tsitsikian (1926–1999) was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. After studying under Professor Karp Dombayev at the Yerevan State Conservatory (1946–1950), she won the Stalin Scholarship and completed her graduate course at the Moscow State Conservatory in 1954. While still a child, she started to perform both as a soloist and with symphonic orchestras. Beginning in 1961 she was the principal soloist at the Armenian Philharmonic Hall. She appeared in concerts throughout the Republics of the former Soviet Union and in 27 countries around the world, and produced four vinyl discs under the Melodiya label.

Her repertoire featured the music of modern Armenian composers, whose works she often co-authored, edited and premiered. In 1950 she began teaching at the Yerevan State Conservatory where she introduced three new courses: “The History and Theory of Bowed Instruments”, “History of Armenian Performing Arts”, and a course in Music teaching practice. While still a student of the Conservatory, she began her research, and focused on bowing art
history and Musical Archaeology, of which she was the founder in Armenia. A participant
in international scientific conferences, her studies have been published in Armenia and abroad. Her artistic career included performances in over a thousand recitals, recordings of sixty pieces of archived music, and texts of more than 300 articles and scripts for both radio and
television. She was a member of many local and international organizations, among them, the Composer’s Union of Armenia, the Union of Soviet Composers, the Armenian Theater Union, the Journalists Union, the Women’s Committee of the USSR, AOKS (cultural liaison committee of Armenia with foreign countries), the “History of World Culture” Committee in the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union, The World Scientific Association of Historical Archaeology, etc. Anahit Tsitsikian passed away on May 2, 1999 and in that year the “Anahit Cultural Foundation” was established to continue her work and fulfill her dreams. The mission of the foundation is to facilitate the promotion of Armenian music by supporting musicians in their professional education and work, setting up and implementing cultural programs and events, and stimulating the integration of Armenian music within international music.
(Adapted from http://anahitmusicschool.com/?page_id=213)