UCLA VEM Ensemble Featured in Newly Released CD of Armenian Music

3 min read

The mission of the UCLA Armenian Music Program is simple, “to preserve and celebrate Armenian music as an art form.” True to this mission, the Program proudly celebrates the official release of “Modulation Necklace,” a new CD of Armenian Music, by the Naxos-distributed label, New Focus Recordings.

Following its lauded recent performances in Yerevan, Armenia the VEM Ensemble—which is a key component of the Program—participated in many of the performances on this recording. 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.”

A testament to the artistry and the grace of this collection is Artashes Kartalyan’s “Tekeyan Triptych” for mezzo-soprano and string quartet, composed for Vahan Tekeyan’s poems of love and loss, commissioned by the Tekeyan Cultural Association. As stated by Raymond Tuttle of Fanfare Magazine, “Artashes Kartalyan’s sensitive, emotional, and always lyrical writing for the voice amplifies their emotions. Mezzo-soprano Danielle Segen sings them gorgeously.”

Highlighting some of the most relevant 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. A significant achievement for the VEM Ensemble and the UCLA Armenian Music Program, the creation of this CD is the latest in a series of projects that celebrate and present the beauty of Armenian Music.

During their upcoming East Coast Concert Tour (April 27-May 4), members of the VEM Ensemble will take Armenian music to audiences in New York, Washington D.C., and Boston. Danielle Segen’s tour of Armenia with Artur Avanaesov and Movses Pogossian, in cooperation with the American University of Armenia (March 19 – 25), will bring Armenian music gems to remote regions of the country. On April 22nd, the VEM Ensemble will perform its annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration Concert at the Billy Wilder Theater of the Hammer Museum. Finally, in a new groundbreaking initiative titled “Day of Armenian Music at UCLA” on May 8th—in collaboration and with the support of the Armenian Community of LA—high school students from the greater Los Angeles area will be hosted for a day-long celebration of the richness and diversity of Armenian Music. The focal point of the day will be a concert at Schoenberg Hall, which will feature a variety of genres: Classical (VEM Ensemble), Folk (newly founded UCLA Armenian Music Ensemble), Jazz (Vartan Ovsepian with friends), and Choral (Children’s Choir from the Lark Musical Society, the Program’s Community Music Partner). The day will also include a campus tour of UCLA and lectures by Karenn Chutjian Presti (history of Armenian music) and Armine Grigoryan, a renowned Armenian pianist and the Director of the Aram Khachaturian Museum in Yerevan.

Learn more about the Armenian Music Program and the VEM Ensemble.

Purchase “Modulation Necklace”, the proceeds of which will benefit the UCLA Armenian Music Program.