Celebrating Armenian <br />
Music and Culture
Celebrating Armenian
Music and Culture

The Armenian Music Program at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music provides an in-depth exploration of Armenia’s rich musical heritage, with a focus on its classical traditions. A hallmark of the school’s innovative leadership in music and its commitment to public outreach, through dynamic performances and academic scholarship, the program has evolved into a vibrant educational platform.

The mission of the Armenian Music Program is to preserve and celebrate Armenian music as an art form. Established in 2013, the Program has presented dozens of outreach performances as well as high-profile public concerts and recordings⁠—including Grammy-nominated Armenian Requiem by Ian Krouse—provided over 30 student scholarships, and built a devoted community of supporters and fans. This Program engages communities of musicians, scholars, and audience members across the UCLA campus, Los Angeles, nationally, and internationally.

Day of Armenian Music at UCLA: Music of Connections (2022)

Newsletter: Modulation Necklace

Newsletter: Modulation Necklace Vol. 2

⬆️ UCLA Armenian Music Program Newsletter Vol. 2 ⬆️

A Day of Armenian Music
Nine years ago, the Armenian Music Program was started with a single student ensemble-in-residence. On Tuesday, May 31 at 12:00 pm, 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
Professor Melissa Bilal Joins Armenian Music Program as Its Full-Time Associate Director
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Melissa Bilal, an internationally recognized ethnomusicologist, sociocultural anthropologist, and social historian, as the full-time Associate Director of the Armenian Music Program.
Armenian Chamber Music album was co-conceived by School of Music Professor Movses Pogossian
A new album of contemporary chamber music might never have come into existence without SOM professor Movses Pogossian. Recorded on the UCLA campus, the album, Con Anima, is also among a select number of projects that the record label, Edition of Contemporary Music, has produced outside of Europe.
Our Achievements
Our Achievements

Explore all recordings Here

Following its lauded recent performances in Yerevan, Armenia, the UCLA VEM Ensemble is featured in the newly released CD of Armenian Music, “Modulation Necklace,” by the Naxos-distributed label, New Focus Recordings. Celebrating the aesthetic diversity of the post-Soviet era Armenian music, the CD highlights a selection of works from distinguished contemporary Armenian composers Artur Avanesov, Ashot Zohrabyan, Michel Petrossian, and Artashes and Ashot Kartalyan. Along with the VEM Ensemble, Modulation Necklace also features internationally renowned musicians Scott St. John, Antonio Lysy, Varty Manouelian, Movses Pogossian, Katisse Buckingham, Dustin Donahue, as well as UCLA alumni Charles Tyler and Niall Ferguson.

Dan Lippel, President of New Focus Recordings, praised the album. “Violinist Movses Pogossian has assembled this illuminating collection of contemporary music from Armenia…revealing a vibrant repertoire whose aesthetics are as outward-looking as they are grounded in their reverence of centuries-old culture.” Highlighting the best of contemporary Armenian Composers, “Modulation Necklace” is a true celebration of Armenian music as an art form and a testament to the rich history and heritage which it tributes. The UCLA VEM ensemble’s participation in the album is a significant achievement, which upholds the noble mission of the Armenian Music Program.

Proceeds of this CD will benefit the UCLA Armenian Music Program.
The CD is available on Amazon and Apple Music.

Recent and Upcoming Events

Day of Armenian Music - Music of Connections

May 31, 2021 | 12:00 – 5:00 PM
Schoenberg Hall and Courtyard, details HERE

Revisit the 2021 Day of Armenian Music Concert

VEM Tours California

Fresno, May 13
San Francisco, May 14
Palo Alto, May 15


In Remembrance: Treasures of Armenian Classical, Contemporary & Folk Music
From Our Home to Yours: A Pogossian/Manouelian Family Concert

April 23, 2020 | 7:00 PM
Virtual Concert (VIEW HERE)

Armenian Music

Instructor: Armen Adamian
Course offered Winter 2022
Wednesdays, 6:00 PM – 8:50 PM
For inquiries contact Armen Adamian
at adamianarmen@gmail.com

The Armenian Music Ensemble is devoted to performing the folk music that developed in Armenian oral traditions. In teaching songs, instrumentals, and corresponding dances, this ensemble offers an integrative approach to developing competency in a variety of traditional Armenian forms. Alongside practice, the course addresses some of the important discourses that have shaped the sensibilities of Armenian identity, music, and folklore at large. Students will learn in a participatory environment and are required to practice in groups outside of class. Prior “musical” competency is not required and instruments are welcomed at the discretion of the instructor.

Beginning Special Topics: Armenian Dance

Instructor: Natalie Kamajian
Course offered Spring 2022
Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00 – 3:30 PM
For inquiries contact Natalie Kamajian
at nekamajian@ucla.edu

Armenian azgagrakan dance technique. Seen in Armenia at outdoor dance gatherings and on the proscenium stage, azgagrakan is an increasingly popular genre that consciously integrates Armenian vernacular aesthetics into contemporary practice and performance. A communal activity and social dance form, the azgagrakan repertoire includes ritual, wedding, and martial dances among others. In addition to movement, students will also engage with in-class viewings, presentations, and guest lectures on the cultural significances of azgagrakan dancing as an expression of Armenian heritage amidst genocide, dispossession, and cultural erasure. Additionally, we will work towards dismantling pejorative associations of “folk” and “traditional” as natural, un-modern, and devoid of complexity. Throughout the class, students will be encouraged to question dominant notions of dance as an individuated Western art practice, and will instead read dancemaking through the lens of community-building.

Introduction to Armenian
Music Course

Instructor: Karenn Presti
Course offered Fall 2021
Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
For inquiries contact Movses Pogossian
at mpogossian@ucla.edu

A vital component of the Armenian Music Program is the provision of the Introduction to Armenian Music course, aimed at both music and non-music majors to serve as a window into one of the most unique music cultures of the world.

The Introduction to Armenian Music course is a lecture class inviting students to explore the history, tradition, and scope of the music of Armenia. Additionally, the class focuses on a variety of genres and approaches, as well as the interactions between music and culture, society, and history. Students meet for three hours a week; classroom demonstrations of Armenian music are provided by the VEM Ensemble and guest musicians. There is also an emphasis on the evolution of Armenian music within the macrostructure of Armenia’s socio-political and cultural development, as well as the rich history of engagement with other societies near and far. The class ensures that students receive a comprehensive introduction to the kaleidoscopic mosaic that is Armenian music and the complex factors that have shaped its multifaceted texture.

Music and Intersectionality
in the Mediterranean

Instructor: Melissa Bilal
Course offered Spring 2022
Thursdays, 3:00 – 5:50 PM
For inquiries contact Melissa Bilal
at melissabilal2@gmail.com

This course explores historical and ethnographic accounts on musical life in and beyond the Mediterranian. Focusing on specific sociopolitical contexts, it studies the role of musical discourse and practices in identity formation in the region and in its multiple diasporas. Throughout the term, we will examine the construction of spaces and subjectivities through music production, consumption, preservation, and exchange. While doing this, we will also develop an intersectional analytical perspective informed by social and critical theory to discuss issues such as politics of aesthetics, knowledge and affect production, community formation, musical ways of witnessing genres of remembrance, musical expressions of dissent. Performance of memory in Armenian music; protest music culture and song bans in Turkey; music and racial justice in Europe; sonic history of colonialism and migration across the Mediterranean; music and social movements in the Middle East and North Africa are topics to be covered in this course.

Gendering Armenian

Instructor: Melissa Bilal
Course offered Winter 2022
Thursdays, 3:00 – 5:50 PM
For inquiries contact Melissa Bilal
at melissabilal2@gmail.com

This course is a graduate seminar that aims to connect Armenian music research with women’s, gender and sexuality studies. Throughout the term, we will familiarize ourselves with the existing literature on the musical lives of Armenians in different parts of the world. By the help of relevant scholarship on past and present Armenian communities, we will situate sonic experiences in their larger historic and ethnographic contexts. We will develop a critical framework informed by theories of gender, race, class, and geography to discuss the production and consumption of Armenian music, musical discourses and practices of Armenians, and the politics of representation and memory in/of Armenian music.

About Us

Movses Pogossian
Professor, Director of Armenian Music Program
Melissa Bilal
Associate Director of Armenian Music Program and Lecturer
Armen Adamian
Instructor of Armenian Music Ensemble
Natalie Kamajian
Instructor of Beginning Armenian Dance; Ph.D. Student in Culture and Performance

Community Outreach Partners and Learning Resources

With a mission to engage the community and expand the reach of Armenian music, this program relies on partners at UCLA and beyond. The following partners help this program reach a larger audience and provide philanthropic resources that support this program’s ongoing activities:

Support the program and keep the music playing