FARMINGTON HILLS, Michigan—For Dan Yessian, the Detroit composer and founder of the award-winning musical production company Yessian Music Inc., writing the classical score “An Armenian Trilogy” has been both a challenge and a musical journey into the past.
Yessian was born in America, but grew up hearing from his grandparents about the tragic stories of the genocide in Armenia, where 1.5 million innocent Armenian citizens were murdered by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1915. When asked by Father Garabed of St. John’s Armenian Church in Southfield, to consider writing a commemorative piece of music evocative of those dark times, Yessian did not hesitate.
Now, on October 29 at 7:30pm, the musical reflection of this historical event will be performed for the public for the first time at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts (44575 Garfield Road, Charter Twp of Clinton, MI 48038). The event will be followed by a multi-media concert entitled Hope Dies Last, showcasing photographs of the period and featuring another musical performance to include a new score by Alexandra du Bois, performed by the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings.
Yessian’s “An Armenian Trilogy” is comprised of three movements for violin and piano, although it will eventually be scored for an orchestra.
- The Freedom: music which evokes the usual struggles of life, but also times which are happy, celebrating dance, food and friendship. This movement opens with a pastoral motif reflecting peace in the land, followed by a melody combined with typical Armenian rhythms as the violin lead moves from one octave to another, depicting the voices of family members.
- The Fear: this movement focuses on the fear of imminent danger. The violin uses a weighted bow to dig deep into the strings, producing a gritty distorted tone, a gallop from the piano represents Turks on horseback, multiple swipes from the violin represent spears butchering men, women and children in the attacks. The music slows as the remaining population is left in shock.
- The Faith: The melody hear speaks to the idea of emptiness and despair and a cry for God’s mercy, the struggle between customary reliance on faith and the doubt about whether that faith is founded. The music pushes and pulls, with portions of anger depicted by a rapid tremolo by the violin and an aggressive piano part. Ultimately there is a key change to a brighter key, as the music looks to a sweeter and brighter future.
“For the past 43 years our company, Yessian Music, has been creating original music for national TV commercials, movie trailers and theme parks across the world,” said Yessian, whose company is based in Farmington Hills, but which also has offices in New York, Hamburg and L.A. “This was a different kind of opportunity and a challenge I couldn’t resist – retelling the story of my ancestors in the way I do best, through music.”
Yessian Music’s recent projects include providing the music for the 9/11 Memorial Museum at the former World Trade Center in New York, and rearranging and recording the music for the United Airlines recent commercials – Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – at Abbey Road Studios in London. It is responsible for countless TV commercials including those for Ikea, Coke, Ford, L’Oreal and Disney, and for promos for TV shows such as The Blacklist, America’s The Voice, Sunday Night Football and ESPN’s College Football.
For tickets for the performance, go to http://www.macombcenter.com/. For more information on Dan Yessian, go to Danyessian.com or visit his company website, Yessian.com