can't have a hall of high quality with a
stage covered in carpet,' Gharabekian says.
'It not only soaks up acoustics but also
kills the very important connection between
conductor and his orchestra or choir.'
The $190,000 Lincy Foundation renovation of the
Chamber Music Theater in Yerevan has struck a
sour chord with the artistic director of the National
Conductor Aram Gharabekian is not complaining
about the new roof, the new lavatories or the
new boiler or air conditioning system. In fact
the conductor says he is not complaining but,
rather, is "concerned".
The conductor, known for his attention to detail
and subtlety of direction and for his insistence
on high quality, is concerned that final touches
of renovation of the 25-year old theater will
hamper, rather than enhance the performances of
his orchestra and choir.
"I never complain," Gharabekian says.
"I'm just concerned and take to heart this
thing and being a musician and a citizen I cannot
The maestro is primarily "concerned"
that the hall's stage has been carpeted - a cosmetic
decision that may be aesthetically pleasing, but
is anathema for insuring proper acoustics for
"You can't have a hall of high quality with
a stage covered in carpet," Gharabekian says.
"It not only soaks up acoustics but also
kills the very important connection between conductor
and his orchestra or choir."
Careful to not appear ungrateful for the reconstruction
gift, Gharabekian says he welcomed the opportunity
to see the hall refurbished, and simply wanted
to see the renovation used to its best advantage.
carpeted Chamber hall looks good. Will it
But no one asked the conductor's opinion for
what might best serve the needs of his musicians.
"For instance at the Dramatic Theatre everything
is wonderful because the director, who is also
the administrative director, perfectly understood
the way the building and stage must have been
reconstructed so that creative problems could
completely be resolved," says Gharabekian.
But unlike situations in other theaters where
Lincy money provided a facelift, at the Chamber
Music Theater the administrative director and
creative director jobs are held by separate people.
Administrative director Andranik Harutyunyan
says he is happy with the renovation, including
the carpeted stage and that Gharabekian's concerns
are exaggerated and have no foundation.
The Lincy Foundation has underwritten the renovation
of 34 culture centers throughout Armenia, including
the Chamber Music Theater.
Lincy representative Gagik Mkrtumyan says all
responsible authorities were consulted about plans
for each center. In the case of the Chamber Music
Theater Gharabekian was not consulted, Mkrtumyan
says, because he is not the decision-maker for
the hall's physical affairs.
Mkrtumyan says Gharabekian's complaints are ungrounded
and that carpeting of the stage was planned from
the beginning by architect Stepan Kiurkchyan,
who is a designer of the building and is the one
to decide what to do.
Architect Kiurkchyan is sure that construction
works of the Chamber Music Theater fully correspond
to the demands that he, as a designer of the building,
raised with the center's director.
Kiurkchyan says the carpet won't interfere with
acoustics and that "there are many halls
in the world which are covered with carpets."
Nor does the architect appreciate the maestro's
"I don't want Gharabekian to interfere in
my business. I never tell him how to hold a baton,"
Kiurkchyan said angrily.
Gharabekian spoke with Kiurkchyan, requesting
that the carpet be removed. But his request was
"The carpet can be taken off and in the
end neither the architectural nor design look
of the building will suffer," Gharabekian
says. "Kiurchyan doesn't have grounds for
his rejection, he only mentions that it is not
the carpet that should be taken out of the hall,
but me and the orchestra."
$190,000 Lincy Foundation renovation did
not bring an accord to the Chamber Music
Theather in Yerevan
During Soviet times when a hall or studio was
constructed, specialists were brought from Moscow
or Baltic countries to advise about acoustics,
as that science was not well-known in Armenia.
Today, Ashot Arakelyan is such a specialist,
and he shares Gharabekian's concern. Arakelyan
requested a meeting with the architect, but was
told there was no reason to meet, as the architect's
decision was firm.
But Arakelyan says the Chamber hall has missed
an opportunity to improve the acoustic conditions,
by putting the carpet on the stage.
Singer and international award-winner, Anna Mayilyan,
has performed on many of the world's major stages.
She, too, favors a wood floor for the stage.
"The amphitheater of the hall also creates
obstacles to the consistency of sound," the
singer says. "Only those who sit in the first
rows can feel the correct sound. Of course, it
is not real to change the amphitheatre, however,
it is possible to remove the carpet."
Mayilyan says that though the previous stage
was also carpeted, the old one was so worn out
it didn't interfere with acoustics.
"Today we can't wait until this new carpet
gets worn-out and only after that start performing,"
says the singer.
The carpet issue aside, Gharabekian is also concerned
that the renovation did not include new lighting.
He worries that the deadline for completing the
project will pass at the end of this month, without
any provisions made for lighting.
The conductor has put his concerns in a letter
to President Robert Kocharyan, but has received
"It's a pity that we lose this unique possibility,"
Gharabekian says. "Who knows when there will
be another opportunity for reconstruction; maybe
in 30 or 40 years . . ."