- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
July 2, 2004

Nature Worship: Sounds and sights make a special night in Garni

Beneath a full moon over an ancient temple, the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia filled Garni with music Thursday night in the first of two concerts devoted to the 10th anniversary of the Armenian Tree Project. A second concert was scheduled for this evening.
Garni offered glorious music in a spectacular setting..

Maestro Aram Gharabekyan waved his orchestra into motion at 10pm, with “Dance of Rosy Girls”, from Aram Khachaturyan’s ballet “Gayane”, just as the moon made its way into view over the 1st Century BC temple.

Yellow lighting filled the inside of the temple, while purple lights highlighted its columns and façade. It is the first time such a spectacle has been held in the canyon, one of Armenia’s most popular tourist destinations.

Seating was provided for 600, but about 100 others stood for the two-hour performance. The audience was a mix of Garni villagers, Yerevantsis and Diaspora.

“It is the most extraordinary concert I have ever seen,” said Heghine Zurabyan, 45, who lives in Garni. “I dream that my children will have many opportunities to hear such concerts.”

Soloist Gayane Grigoryan performed with NCOA.

The orchestra was accompanied by soprano Gayane Grigoryan and soprano Nune Badalyan, who received a standing ovation for her performance of the last aria of the opera “Anush”.

In opening statements before the music, Gharabekyan praised the work of the Tree Project, which over the past decade has planted 530,000 trees in 500 locations throughout Armenia.

“It was just a breathtaking, stunning scene to listen to this music in front of this amazing temple,” said Glenn Surabian, of Boston, who is in Armenia to work on a USAID-sponsored program. “These beautiful trees were lit up. I think it was just a wonderful celebration for the Tree Project.”

The Orchestra produced a similar event last year in Shushi, Nagorno Karabakh.

The Maestro

Orchestra director Armen Arabyan said the Garni concert was a logistical challenge, more so than the Karabakh performance. He also said they spent about $20,000 to organize the concert and that the orchestra hopes to make such events an annual occurrence.

The performance was filmed and will be produced as a DVD and recorded for release on CD.

The Friday night performance is scheduled for live broadcast on Armenian Public Television.

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Bearing Fruit

A priest blesses a bowl of Armenian apricots prior to the opening of the Golden Apricot International Film Festival in Yerevan on June 30. The fruit was handed out to guests at the opening ceremony at the city's Moscow Cinema.



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