Shoghaken Folk Ensemble
Shoghaken Folk Ensemble
The Shoghaken Folk Ensemble was founded in 1995 in Yerevan. The group uses only traditional Armenian instruments, maintaining an authentic sound with the duduk, zurna, dhol, kanon, kamancha, shvi, and other instruments. Singers Hasmik Harutyunyan and Aleksan Harutyunyan are known throughout Armenia, the former Soviet Union, and Europe for their unique interpretation of Armenian folk and ashoughagan (troubadour) music.
In 1995, Shoghaken recorded folk music for Celestial Harmonies in the Music of Armenia series. The ensemble also had success in the Armenia Festival in Die, southern France, representing Armenia in the folk music tradition.
Shoghaken was involved in several recordings in 2001. In May, Shakeh Avanessian, of London, and Laura Shannon, of Scotland, recorded an album of Armenian dance melodies in Yerevan. Avanessian and Shannon are professional dancers who present traditional dance in concerts and seminars in Europe and the Middle East. The recording, Gorani: Traditional Dances from the Armenian Homeland, is named for “Gorani,” a song and dance from the Moush region of Historic Armenia.
In August, Shoghaken recorded an album of Armenian folk music for Traditional Crossroads (see Recommended Links). The recording included Armenian folk, ashoughagan, patriotic, and epic songs. The CD, entitled Armenia Anthology, was released in May 2002.
In search of authentic Armenian folk music for the soundtrack of Ararat, his film about the Armenian Genocide, Atom Egoyan traveled to Yerevan in December of 2001 with composer Mychael Danna. They found and recorded Shoghaken, whose inspired work has made them Armenia’s premier folk music ensemble. In addition to drawing on their extensive repertoire of Armenian folk music, the musicians of Shoghaken were successfully able to improvise according to the needs of the movie — the recording studio becoming a creative atmosphere in which the director and composer conveyed the style and feel of Ararat to the group. Through ensemble pieces and improvisations, Shoghaken was able to exert a deep and positive influence on Egoyan’s important film. The members of the group were also pleased to play a part in telling the story of the Genocide.
Shoghaken was also invited to the United States by world-renowned cellist, Yo Yo Ma, to perform at the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. To see photos and read more about the festival, click here. In July 2003, three members of the group traveled to Estonia to participate in the Viljandi Folk Festival in Viljandi, Estonia. Vocalist Hasmik Harutyunyan was accompanied by musicians Levon Tevanyan and Karine Hovhannisyan in two well-attended concerts.
In February 2004, Traditional Crossroads released two more Shoghaken Ensemble recordings: Armenian Lullabies, a haunting collection of lullabies from Historic Armenia featuring Hasmik Harutyunyan and the musicians of Shoghaken; and Traditional Dances of Armenia, an instrumental and vocal presentation of traditional dances of the Armenian homeland. Official presentation of the CDs coincided with the ensemble’s 2004 U.S. tour, arranged by Harold Hagopian. Both CDs are available for purchase at Traditional Crossroads. In December, Shoghaken participated in “Armenian Culture Days,” a celebration of music, performance, and art held in Sharja, in the United Arab Emirates.
In February 2005, the group performed in Montreal at the Strictly Mundial music conference. While in Canada, Hasmik Harutyunyan and Gevorg Dabaghyan were interviewed at the Palais de Congress for the Canadian Broadcasting Network’s widely distributed “Global Village” radio program. In August, Shoghaken appeared in Concert at the Cascade, a Yerevan event sponsored by the Cafesjian Foundation and filmed for the international Armenian television audience.
In the first of several events scheduled for 2006, Shoghaken performed in Paris at the prestigious Theatre de la Ville in February. To see photos and read more about the event, which was filmed for worldwide broadcast, click here. For a French-language review, video, interview, gallery, and music samples, click here. In June, the group participated in the Armenia Year in Russia festivities at the St. Petersburg Palaces classical music festival. This was followed by a trip to Rudolstadt, Germany, in July for performances, workshops, and a radio program as part of the Dance and Folk Music Festival.
In 2008, Shoghaken gave concerts and workshops during their second major tour of the US and Canada. Organized by Harold Hagopian of Traditional Crossroads, the tour coincided with the release of the ensemble’s latest CD, Shoghaken Ensemble: Music From Armenia.
On February 7, 2009, Shoghaken Ensemble: Music From Armenia was awarded the best folk recording of 2008 at the National Music Awards in Yerevan, Armenia. On September 9, 2009, Shoghaken presented a concert at the Aram Khachtryan Concert Hall in Yerevan. Other concert and festival appearances planned for 2009 include Istanbul, Jerusalem, Australia, and Slovakia.
On March 12, 2010, Shoghaken performed a concert at Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana, Slovenia, as part of “Armenia Days in Slovenia.” Hasmik Harutyunyan also presented workshops of Armenian folk and dance for the Emanat Institute in Ljubljana.
In March 2011, Shoghaken musicians Hasmik Harutyunyan, Aleksan Harutyunyan, Gevorg Dabaghyan, Vardan Baghdasaryan, and Grigor Takushyan traveled to the Netherlands and Belgium for a three-concert tour. The many in attendance were treated to traditional folk songs and dances from the Armenian Highland, as well as troubadour songs and Armenian mugham played on duduk and kamancha.