Its members play traditional Armenian instruments including the duduk, the zurna, the dhol, the kanon, the kamancha, and the shvi. The Shoghaken Ensemble has become one of the most respected traditional music ensembles in Armenia. Dedicated to rediscovering and continuing Armenia’s extraordinary folk music history, the group presents music from a broad geographical and historical span using traditional instruments and song styles. Popular dances and troubadour (ashugh) melodies are interspersed with more unusual emigrant- and work-songs, medieval epic verse, mournful wedding dances (a peculiarly Armenian oxymoron) and exquisite lullabies (numbering in the hundreds and renowned for their haunting lyricism). 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. The recording included Armenian folk, ashoughagan, patriotic, and epic songs. The CD, entitled Armenia Anthology, was released in May 2002. The music of the Shoghaken Ensemble is featured on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan's film about the Armenian genocide, Ararat.
In search of authentic Armenian folk music for the soundtrack, 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 2004, Traditional Crossroads released two more Shoghaken Ensemble recordings: Armenian Lullabies, 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. It has performed in Armenia, France, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Slovenia, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S. (including an eighteen-concert 2004 tour and an appearance at the 2002 Folklife Festival as part of the Silk Road project organized by Yo Yo Ma). In 2008, Shoghaken gave concerts during their second major tour of the US and Canada; the tour coincided with the release of the ensemble’s latest CD, Shoghaken Ensemble: Music From Armenia. The Shoghaken Ensemble, the consummate representative of the eastern tradition, combines the musical virtuosity inherited from the Soviet years with a new attention to the unscripted forms and styles of lost songs and dances, from both west and east—a curiosity that has become a hallmark of post-Soviet Armenian culture. Read more on Last.fm.
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