“Giving Voice to Music” empowers musicians amid crises in Lebanon

Lynn Zovighian welcomes the Fayha National Choir at the inaugural concert of “Giving Voice to Music”

BEIRUT, LebanonAs musicians continue to face the consequences of the many socioeconomic and political crises in Lebanon, the American University of Beirut (AUB) Neighborhood Initiative with The Zovighian Partnership Public Office has launched the “Giving Voice to Music” initiative to create safe and public spaces for music to be amplified and celebrated. On Saturday, May 13, award-winning and virtuoso musicians took the stage at the AUB Assembly Hall to give a collaborative and intimate performance to an audience of patrons of the arts, diplomats, educators, doctors and society-at-large.

Assembly Hall overflowed with a full-house audience of over 600 people who gathered to celebrate the musical talents.

Curated and commissioned by business leader and social investor Lynn Zovighian, the concert featured award-winning international opera soprano Maria Mattar, pianist and conductor Armen Ketchek, violinist Rita Asdikian, violist Rania Kallab, cellist Angela Hounanian and the Fayha National Choir led by choirmaster Maestro Barkev Taslakian with Zovighian, who returned to the stage as a opera soprano after a 16-year hiatus. The concert was also supported by the Saadallah and Loubna Khalil Foundation.

The Fayha National Choir performed folkloric and iconic Arabic and Armenian music at the inaugural concert of “Giving Voice to Music” led by Maestro Barkev Taslakian

The night featured an immersive repertoire of instrumental overtures, opera and choral music by William Gomez, Barsegh Kanachian, Zaki Nassif, Jacques Offenbach, Giacomo Puccini, Antonio Vivaldi and more. The concert proved to be delightful, as the audience demonstrated its enjoyment of the performances with applause and chants for an encore.

“The AUB Neighborhood Initiative has been organizing cultural events to re-enliven Ras Beirut and bring joy to people in these difficult times. We are proud of our collaboration with The Zovighian Partnership, hoping that this is one of many to come,” said director of the AUB Neighborhood Initiative Mona Hallak in her opening remarks. “‘Giving Voice to Music’ is a true partnership, bringing together the immense talent of musicians in celebration of national musical treasures in Lebanon,” she added.

The cultural economy in Lebanon, like so many other sectors, has significantly contracted, leaving musicians largely alone to fend for themselves.

“As a family and business, we are deeply committed to bringing out the voices of communities. This time, we are honored to join such incredibly talented Lebanese musicians who are persevering every day against the many crises in Lebanon,” said Michel Zovighian, co-founder and chairperson of The Zovighian Partnership.

“Music is a toolkit that teaches us how to maintain high standards of excellence, relentlessly deliver and work as a team,” shared Lynn Zovighian, “These are the values our country needs to rebuild and move forward.”

Lynn Zovighian thanked all musicians for their incredible team effort to inaugurate “Giving Voice to Music” with bouquets of local Lebanese roses

Many musicians have struggled to build successful careers in Lebanon. Today, they face economic displacement with the loss of livelihood; cultural displacement because their raison d’être cannot compete with other humanitarian priorities; and identity displacement as more join the permanent tidal waves of brain drain.

“Our goal is to show talented Lebanese youth that music in Lebanon has a future. Our students, for whom we have taught music for many years, should not be disappointed. They can find in such concerts their motivation to grow professionally and continue their musical careers in Lebanon,” explained Ketchek, who is also a professor at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music and a consultant at the Ministry of Culture.

Taslakian, who has led the Fayha National Choir to perform in many concerts around the world, said, “Working with citizens and musicians allows us to strengthen and celebrate our national musicianship. The members of the Fayha National Choir are a support system for each other and our audience. It is in these times that we need to care for each other more than ever.”

Mattar, who is also an opera judge in l’Opera Europe and an orchestra conductor, added, “The joy and enthusiasm of our audience is a heartwarming reminder that beautiful music has been missed in Lebanon, and we were very delighted to bring to AUB Assembly Hall an uplifting performance from the heart.”

Soprano singer Maria Mattar performs “Ahwak” by Zaki Nassif with the Fayha National Choir at the “Giving Voice to Music” concert, May 13

Zovighian invited all musicians and audience members to sing “Koullouna lil-ouṭaan lil ou’la lil a’lam” in a closing tribute at the launch of the “Giving Voice to Music” initiative, singing the Lebanese National Anthem together with the audience.

“We must not leave our musicians behind,” said Zovighian. “It is my hope that this concert will encourage patrons of the arts to join us and support the quests of our musicians to establish sustainable livelihoods and maintain the highest standards of excellence and national team spirit.”

The Zovighian Partnership (ZP) is a family-owned social investment platform, established by father and daughter in 2013. Deeply invested in R&D, ZP is committed to delivering ethical, inclusive and innovative research, design and prototypes to incubate and accelerate impact.

Established in 2015, the ZP Public Office is committed to delivering critical resources, grounded methodology, trusted governance and rigorous strategic advocacy to communities and cities in crisis in Iraq, Lebanon and Armenia.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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