November 3, 2009


Violist Kim Kashkashian to Perform Hayren, Settings of Poems by Komitas, Dec. 2 at NEC's Jordan Hall

Performers from Kashkashian's ECM Recording Reassembled for This Concert Include Tigran Mansurian, Robyn Schulkowsky

Kim Kashkashian (Claire Steffini photo)Conservatory violist Kim Kashkashian will bring together Armenian composer, pianist and vocalist Tigran Mansurian and percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky to recreate her 2005 ECM recording, Hayren, December 2 in NEC's Jordan Hall. The musicians will perform works by Mansurian and Mansurian's arrangements of songs by the venerated Armenian composer Komitas Vardapet.  According to liner notes published with the recording, the title alludes to the "poetical style most beloved by Armenians. A tradition of centuries... Hayren is dense with the phonetics and intonation of the Armenian language, the Armenian landscape, and aspects of Armenian worldview and sentiment..." 
The 8 p.m. concert is free and open to the public.
The trio will repeat the performance Dec. 6 at New York's Le Poisson Rouge.
Armenian coin with Komitas imageKomitas Vardapet (1869-1935) is revered by Armenians as his nation's most brilliant songwriter. But, he was also more than this. A priest, philosopher, poet, ethnomusicologist, collector of folk songs, and writer of sacred and secular music that bridged the old and the new, he connected the melodic character of the most ancient Armenian music with the works of contemporary Armenian composers. He suffered a nervous breakdown after witnessing events in the Armenian genocide and is considered one of the victims of that tragedy.
A member of the NEC faculty since 2000, Kim Kashkashian's quest for new directions and forms, which she obtains through intense and continuous work with composers, is an active part of her musical life. As a result of these relationships with such composers as Mansurian, Gubaidulina, Penderecki, Kancheli, Kurtág, Pärt and Eötvös, she has extensively enlarged the repertoire for the viola. Her commitment to chamber music, which began during years of participation at the Marlboro Music Festival where she was strongly influenced by Felix Galimir, continues through appearances at the Salzburg, Marlboro, Lockenhaus and Stavanger Festivals. Current ongoing partnerships include duos with percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky, pianist Robert Levin, and harpsichordist Robert Hill.
Kashkashian's recordings give an index of the range of her activities. Her extensive discography with ECM comprises many works including the complete Viola Sonatas of Hindemith, the Shostakovich Sonata Op. 147 (Robert Levin, piano), the concerti of Britten, Penderecki, Kancheli and Schnittke as well as works by Linda Bouchard and Paul Chihara for viola and percussion (Robyn Schulkowsky), the Bach Sonatas for viola da gamba and cembalo (Keith Jarrett), music from Eleni Karaindrou for the film Ulysses' Gaze and a chamber music CD with works of Kurtág and Schumann together with Eduard Brunner, clarinet and Robert Levin, piano. Ms. Kashkashian's recording, with Robert Levin, of the Brahms Viola Sonatas won the Edison Award 1999. Her June 2000 recording of concertos by Bartók, Eötvös and Kurtág won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award for a premiere recording by Soloist with Orchestra. Kashkashian's latest disc, Neharot, Neharot has been the subject of an admiring review and feature on NPR's All things Considered.

Tigran MansurianTigran Mansurian was born January 27, 1939 in Beirut to Armenian parents. In 1947 the family, like many displaced Armenians at the time, returned to their home country, finally settling in the Armenian capital of Yerevan in 1956. Mansurian studied at the Yerevan Music Academy for four years and, from 1960, at the Komitas State Conservatory where, after taking his doctor's degree, he taught contemporary music analysis. In only a few years, he became one of Armenia's leading composers, establishing friendships and creative relationships with composers Valentin Silvestrov, Arvo Pärt, Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, André Volkonsky and Edison Denissow as well as Natalja Gutman, Oleg Kagan, Alexei Lubimov and, later, Kim Kashkashian, Robyn Schulkowsky, Christoph Poppen, Eduard Brunner, Leonidas Kavakos, Jan Garbarek, the Hilliard Ensemble and other interpreters of his work. In the 1990s, a difficult period for Armenia, Mansurian became the director of the Komitas Conservatory. In recent years he has retired from administrative work and teaching, concentrating exclusively on composition. Mansurian's œuvre, characterized mainly by the organic synthesis of ancient Armenian musical traditions and contemporary European composition methods, comprises orchestral works, seven concertos for strings and orchestra, sonatas for cello and piano, three string quartets, madrigals, chamber music and works for solo instruments.

Robyn SchulkowskyRobyn Schulkowsky was born in Eureka, South Dakota, and completed her studies at the University of Iowa. In the mid-1970s, she was percussionist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Fe Orchestra and directed a class in percussion at the University of New Mexico. The percussionist has been sought out as an interpreter by major composers including Iannis Xenakis, Heinz Holliger, John Cage, Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, Mauricio Kagel and Karlheinz Stockhausen, all of whom have valued her personal and imaginative approach to the score. In addition to her work in new music she also plays free improvised music and has collaborated frequently with the idiom's grey eminence, Derek Bailey. She recorded a (mostly) solo album Hastening Westward for ECM in 1995. In the same year she also received the Christoph and Stephan Kaske Award for her innovations in drumming. Recently she worked with African drummer Ghanaba on a project for a documentary film by the Bayerischer Rundfunk.

For further information, check the NEC Website at: or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122.  NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. St. Botolph Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory