Vahe Karapetyan will perform in his second solo event, an eclectic fusion of traditional Armenian songs under the musical direction of Ara Dabandjian, on March 5, 2011 at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 and available on-line here.
Karapetyan is a recent transplant to Los Angeles from his native Armenia. His career in classical operatic music began during his five years of study at the Vazgenyan Seminary in Armenia. As a young seminarian he developed his voice as a member of the seminary’s choir and in a short time became one of its leading voices. After leaving, the Vazgenyan Seminary, Karapetyan was accepted at the Yerevan State Conservatory and studied in the conservatory’s prestigious Vocal Arts Department for four years.
His debut CD In My World, released last fall, is a tribute to two of Armenia’s greatest and most legendary composers – Fr. Komitas and Sayat Nova. Karapetyan sings in a deep baritone voice that lends itself perfectly to the haunting melodies of the classical Armenian composers. “Karapetyan’s debut CD reinterprets classic love songs of Komitas and other Armenian musical icons by modernizing their arrangements yet preserving the essence of their original spirit.” He works with Los Angeles based Music Director, Ara Dabandjian.
The Music in his World
By Eliza Galfayan
Watching Vahe Karapetyan perform, feels akin to witnessing something timeless. Karapetyan’s deep baritone voice coupled with the eclectic sounds of musical director, Ara Dabandjian, transports the audience into a boundless time and space, into the depths of classical Armenian music, and into a collective and inherited voice that is nothing short of enchanting. At a recent promotional event for his upcoming concert on March 5, Karapetyan spoke about his debut CD, In My World, released last fall and about the music of classical Armenian icons that have led him on his most personal journey.
From a young age Karapetyan has been around music. Hearing him talk about his first musical endeavors, a Beatles cover band that his stepfather started with him and his brother, seems out of place now. Singing the ancient ballads of Fr. Komitas and Sayat Nova seem far more appropriate and befitting of his voice. But those early days in childhood, with his stepfather on the guitar and he and his brother pretending to be John and Paul respectively were the very beginnings of this still young artist’s musical career. While those musical seeds were planted early on it would take a long time for his voice to emerge into the deep baritone that he sings in now. By the time Karapetyan graduated from high school in his native Armenia he had long ago given up on his Beatles covers, and had decided instead to enter the priesthood. He was accepted into the Vazgenyan Seminary and while there began a new voyage with music, especially liturgical works and choir music – “this is where my voice really developed,” says Karapetyan proudly. During his time at the Vazgenyan Seminary he had become one of its leading voices and through this journey came another – the realization that his calling to the priesthood was to end but his calling to the world of music was just beginning anew.
The desire to formally train led his acceptance at Yerevan State Conservatory where he studied the classics and developed his voice from the tenor he had thought himself to be to the recognition that he was a baritone – “I was upset at first at having to give up my identity as a tenor but I realized that a baritone voice lends itself best to the music I am drawn to and sing. For Armenian folk music the baritone voice is softer, more melodic,” Karapetyan explains. His studies at the conservatory ended in 2003 when he left Armenia to begin a new life in America, where the music in him was just beginning to take new roots.
Call it kismet that Karapetyan met Dabandjian when he arrived in Los Angeles back in 2003. It was that meeting that has helped shape and propel his musical career. Under the genius of Dabandjian’s musical direction the music of Komitas, Sayat Nova and the icons of classical Armenian music have reemerged with a new force – an eclectic fusion of melodies combined with a powerful voice that gives life to the timeless music of old masters.
The deep passion and respect Karapetyan feels for this music is apparent not only in the beautifully arranged tracks found on In My World, but also in every live performance he gives whether he is singing with only Dabandjian accompanying him on guitar or with the force of a full band behind him. In My World, is the title track of a song by Sayat Nova but for Karapetyan the meaning is much deeper, more personal – “these are the songs that I feel occupy my world, they are what is inside me…part of my identity is linked to these songs.” Whatever personal connections Karapetyan makes to the music is apparent in his hauntingly beautiful interpretations – nothing is lost and every chord is felt from whatever place he is singing.
For more information on the upcoming concert visit www.itsmyseat.com