July 13, 2004
YEREVAN (ArmeniaNow, combined sources)—Beneath a full moon over an ancient temple, the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia filled Garni with music on July 2.
Maestro Aram Gharabekyan waved his orchestra into motion at 10pm, with “Dance of Rosy Girls,” from Aram Khachaturian’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, blue, and green lights successively highlighted its columns and façade. It is the first time such a spectacle has been held in the gorge, 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 dignitaries, citizens, and diasporan Armenians who received special invitations to the event.
“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.”
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.”
Gharabekyan praised the work of the Tree Project, which over the past decade has planted 531,000 trees in 500 locations throughout Armenia.
“The orchestra is honored to have a role in the protection and revitalization of our environment through music,” Gharabekyan was quoted as saying. “Let’s place our hands together across Armenia and across the world so that we can replant, replenish, and rebuild a new vision for the future.”
“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 Karabagh at the College of Applied Arts and Sciences, which was destroyed during the armed conflict. The concert aimed to promote awareness of the college’s reconstruction, just as the Garni concert publicized the Tree Project’s reforesting efforts throughout Armenia.
“One of the objectives of the orchestra has always been to play a part, not only in the cultural life of our society, but to make a meaningful contribution to the causes that impact our lives as citizens,” read a statement by the orchestra about the performance.
“Therefore, this evening’s concert is not incidental, but a commitment whose roots can be traced to Shushi. Let’s all ensure that we build a new society — one which places importance on ecology and the environment and one which our children will be proud to inherit,” the statement concluded.
Orchestra director Armen Arabyan said the Garni concert was a logistical challenge, more so than the Karabagh performance. He also said they spent about $20,000 to organize the concert and that the orchestra hopes to produce such events annually.
The performance was filmed and will be produced as a DVD and recorded for release on CD.
The ATP is a non-profit organization that
was founded in 1994 during Armenia’s
darkest and coldest years with the vision
of safeguarding Armenia’s future by
protecting its environment. Funded by contributions
from Diasporan Armenians, the ATP has planted
and rejuvenated 531,000 trees at more than
400 sites ranging from Gyumri to Goris.