the project

The Music of Armenia focuses much of its six volumes on the sacred and folk music traditions of the Eastern Armenians. It was recorded mostly within the modern republic. The only exception was the folk music of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which was recorded inside that strife-torn area in Azerbaijan. The Music of Armenia, as substantial as it is, in fact began as a musical detour. The intrepid New Zealand composer, David Parsons, who has previously produced The Music of Cambodia (19902) and The Music of Vietnam (19903) was working on another project for Celestial Harmonies titled, The Music of Islam (19907), when Celestial Harmonies' president, Eckart Rahn, asked if he had heard the monastic choirs of Armenia. Parsons set off to investigate: once there, he says, "I was struck by the extremely high level of development in all the music I was hearing. For me, personally, this was the most outstanding traditional music I had heard."

The recent explosion of interest in Gregorian Chant and in the mystical music of various, mostly Eastern European composers, suggests that there is something in modern Western life that has listeners searching for the ancient, or, perhaps timeless sounds, of sacred music. The sacred choral music heard on The Music of Armenia, Volume One: Sacred Choral Music certainly fits the bill.

the artists

The choir performing on The Music of Armenia, Volume One is the Haissmavourk of Gtoutiun, A.B.U., or, in English, Haissmavourk of Charity. The A.B.U. designation refers to the American Benevolent Union, a private American trust at work in Armenia. The choir, which performs, and is famous throughout Armenia, was created in 1990 and only sings sacred music.

The choir's musical director, Mihran Ghazelian was born in Beirut, but had his musical education in Armenia. He is also the musical director and conductor of the Echmiadzin Cathedral. He is both a conductor and musicologist and has toured as conductor of Armenian choirs in Canada and England.

Ghazelian is also a graduate of the Komitas State Conservatory, Yerevan. The conservatory's namesake, Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935), was the arranger of many of the tracks on The Music of Armenia, Volume One as well as many tracks on the other five volumes. Armenian music has it roots in Eastern traditions and is not bound by the rules of Western music. Komitas had the idea of making this music polyphonic and subsequently arranged hundreds of folk songs that he collected from the villages.


1 Aravot lousaber (Ascending light.) 3'15"
2 Aysor dzainen (Hymn for the blessing of the water.) 2'51"
3 Bats mez ter (Open for us.) 2'36"
4 Hayrapetakan maghtan (Prayer to the patriach.) 2'27"
5 Yekyalks (We are gathered.) 3'45"
6 Hyer mer (The Lord's Prayer.) 2'42"
7 Havoun havoun (About the bird.) 3'52"
8 Sirt im sasani (My heart is trembling.) 4'31"
9 Yerg votnlvai (1) (Hymn for the washing of the feet.) 2'07"
10 Ov zarmanali (What a miracle.) 2'33"
11 Hreshtakayin (Hagiological hymn.) 3'11"
12 Metsatsoustseh (Synaxical hymn.) 0'52"
13 Yerg votnlvai (2) (Hymn for the washing of the feet.) 3'01"
14 Hayr arakogh (Hymn for the feast of the Apostles.) 3'17"
15 Our es myer im (Where are you, my mother.) 3'32"
16 Khachi ko Ktistos (To Christ's cross.) 8'28"
17 Yekeghetsin haikakan (The Armenian Church.) 3'22"
18 Marmin terounakan (1) (The Lord's body.) 1'27"
19 Chanapar (The way.) 1'40"
20 Echmiadzin 2'11"
21 Varanimk (Melody for the Feast of Assumption.) 4'07"
22 Marmin terounakan (2) (The Lord's body.) 1'24"
23 Bashkheh zharmin (Chant of Communion.) 0'50"
24 Ter voghormya (God forgive us.) 5'00"
  Total Time: 75'00"