Armenian News Network / Groong October 14, 2002 Entertainment Wire By Sahan Arzruni NEW YORK, NEW YORK Isabel Bayrakdarian, the Armenian Canadian soprano, projects a commanding presence on stage. In a rapidly growing career, she has become a sought after performer, appearing in many opera productions, concert engagements and recorded performances. Next season, she will make her Met debut in A View from the Bridge. On October 13, Sunday afternoon, Ms. Bayrakdarian offered a concert, `Light from the Cross,' at New York's Alice Tully Hall, presented by the Prelacy of the Armenian Church. In the first half of the program, she performed Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate, a chestnut in the repertoire of coloratura sopranos. Ms. Bayrakdarian offered a well articulated performance, singing the infamous, treacherous passages of the composition with control and clarity. Yet, her interpretation lacked the vocal luminosity necessary to express the exultation and jubilation inherent in the score. Hers was a studied performance rather than a spontaneous outpouring. The second half of the program was devoted to a composition by Christos Hatzis, a Greek Canadian composer, who was commissioned by the Prelacy to write a work using the text of eight Armenian liturgical chants associated with the holy week proceeding Easter. Ms. Bayrakdaryan was much more at ease in this setting. Perhaps her familiarity with Armenian church music helped her create a vocal line that was graceful, warm and communicative. She handled some of the melismatic passages with admirable élan, she adjusted her intonation to accommodate the peculiarities of Armenian music and paced herself to create an effective musical design. Mr. Hatzis' composition was less than successful, however. These ancient liturgical chants can not be altered to such an extant that they are no longer recognizable. Here the text and the music are united; they are inseparable; they present a single nature, just like the Armenian church and its doctrine of monophsysism. Mr. Hatzis had borrowed occasional musical gestures from the chants and created new melodies that were basically irrelevant. Although a solid and colorful orchestrator, the orchestral sound web Mr. Hatzis had devised had little to do with the spirit or the content of the Armenian church music. The Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Mario Bernardi, assisted Ms. Bayrakdarian and performed with enthusiasm and gusto. The afternoon began with Ekmalian's Lord's Prayer and continued with Hovhaness' Tsaikerk, a winning composition for violin, flute and chamber orchestra. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Sahan Arzruni is a concert pianist and an ethnomusicologist. He has toured China and Vietnam, performing and giving master classes, and has delivered a series of lectures on Arshak II at the request of the San Francisco Opera Guild.
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