Hamazkayin Boston folk concert features Mher Mnatsakanyan

Hamazkayin Boston folk concert features Mher Mnatsakanyan, Artur Zakiyan and Markos Shahbazyan (Photo: Daniel Ayriyan)

WATERTOWN, Mass. — The Boston chapter of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society hosted a folk concert late last month at the Mosesian Center for the Arts with Mher Mnatsakanyan on duduk, Artur Zakiyan on piano and Markos Shahbazyan on dhol. 

It was a magical night with a program that delighted the audience from start to finish. The musicians played classical Armenian folk music, as well as creative renditions of popular songs such as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on duduk and piano. There were also original compositions and Massachusetts premieres of work by Zakiyan, such as Հին Ամրոց (Old Castle).

This was Hamazkayin’s second time hosting Mnatsakanyan and friends for a concert. He previously performed back in December of 2021 with Markos Shahbazyan and Grigor Galstyan at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center in Watertown. The theme of that concert was to showcase the beauty and versatility of the duduk, an instrument that can evoke a range of emotions from somber to joyous.

Mher Mnatsakanyan (Photo: Daniel Ayriyan)

Mnatsakanyan has spent many years as a classical clarinetist and a modern duduk soloist. He has performed around the world in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Argentina, Colombia, Canada, throughout Europe and the US, including at Carnegie Hall. He also spent three years touring with the late duduk master Djivan Gasparyan. In the US, Mnatsakanyan has been working hard to introduce more people to the spiritual world of the Armenian duduk, and with the help of Hamazkayin Boston, the audience at the Mosesian Center on October 29 was able to witness it.

Mnatsakanyan featured a unique duduk for this concert—a keyed duduk manufactured by his father. Since the duduk is a complex instrument for achieving half notes, Mnatsakanyan’s father engineered a duduk that could help students of the instrument make half notes more easily.

Artur Zakiyan (Photo: Daniel Ayriyan)

During the concert, Zakiyan played a crowd favorite, Arno Babajanian’s “Elegy.” Shahbazyan, for his part, energized the crowd with a solo dhol performance. The program culminated with all three musicians offering a very fitting performance of “Yerevan Erebuni.” For many of the Armenians in the audience, it was an opportunity to join in singing the patriotic song. For non-Armenians in the audience, the piece was so poignant that many asked about the history and the meaning of the song after the concert.

Markos Shahbazyan

Attendees included members of the Greater Boston Armenian community, as well as regular patrons of the Mosesian Center. There were also college students and new graduates from diverse backgrounds who wanted to learn more about Armenian music and culture.

Vazrik Chiloyan

Vazrik Chiloyan

Vazrik Chiloyan

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