London’s Komitas Choir and Cultural Association Concert Exhibition

On the 11th June, the Komitas Choir and Cultural Association (KCCA) set out to begin its mission of introducing the richness of Armenian culture to both the community and the general public. A concert-exhibition entitled “Dialogue between Music and Palette” was organised for this date and it would not be an overstatement to say that the event dazzled the audience of more than 200 people. A broad range of solo performances specially chosen by artistic director Sipan Olah, singing by the Komitas Choir, and the showcasing of Leonie Pilart’s resplendent paintings were the order of the day for this occasion.

The Komitas Choir was founded by Sipan Olah in 2013 and was established in London with the aim of gathering a band of singers to perform and promote the folk and classical songs of both the Armenian tradition and other cultures. The choir now enjoys an exceptional reputation both in the UK and internationally, having performed at numerous concerts and having cooperated with highly-regarded and well-known professional choirs. The choir has now been formalised as part of the Komitas Choir and Cultural Association, which was established this year with 6 member professional board members. Its activities are not only restricted to choir singing, but will delve into all aspects of music and culture in general as concerts, talks, and written pieces are all in the works.

The event on the 11th June took place at St Cuthbert’s Church in Kensington, central London. The musical concert began with a series of solo performances. These comprise a variety of folk songs notated by Komitas, including the famous “Qele, qele”, sung by Lithuanian soloist, Inesa Domracevaite, “Sky was clouded and Shogherjan”, performed by Director of the KCCA and well known tenor soloist, Sipan Olah. Alina Tadevosyanfrom Australia performed a blissful rendition of Komitas’ “Kujnara” (I’ve taken a jug) and HovhannesArakelyan’s powerful voice moved the audience in his performance of “Like a dream” by VagharshakKotoya. A couple of entertaining duets were performed by Hayarpi Yeghikyan and Sipan Olahin addition to a solo performance of “AkhMaraljan” by Hayarpi Yeghikyan soprano. Aside from singing, Leon Aslanov played “Exprompt” composed by Arno Babajanyan on the piano and he also gave a duet performance along with Sipan Olah of the well-known Masquerade Waltz by Aram Khachaturyan.

The soloists then took their place with the Komitas Choir on stage and Sipan Olah took his position as conductor. Accompanist of this event was Chinese pianist Emas Au from Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The Choir performed a number of songs that have been in the repertoire for some time, including “Rain has fallen” by Komitas and “Arpa Sevan” by Edgar Hovhanisyan. Many of the songs, however, were newly introduced to the Komitas Choir this year a pieces such as “I believe and I don’t”, “Song of the road”, songs in jazz style written by Konstantin Orbelyan, were performed for the first time ever in the UK. The concert ended with a bang as a public favourite, “Armenian folk songs” by Stepan Shakaryan, entertained the audience once again. Most of the songs were edited by Conductor Sipan Olah specially for the KCCA.

The attention then shifted to the art exhibition showcasing 26 paintings by the multitalented Leonie Pilart. She gave a heartfelt speech describing her love for Armenia and explaining the connection between her paintings and her homeland. She expressed her gratitude to the KCCA by handing a commemorative Medal with the great Komitas’ image on it, made by herself, to Mr Olah.

Representatives of the Armenian and Anglican churches were present, as well as members of many UK cultural organisations, musicians and art lovers.

After a rapturous applause for the Choir, the audience was then free to enjoy the art exhibition, the special reception organised by the ladies committee of the KCCA,and the positive atmosphere of this joyous occasion in the beautiful St Cuthbert’s Church in the centre of London.


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