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Martin Berkofsky
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Saturday, 20 October 2007

It was still cold in Moscow, a late March day in 2004, only several days after Atakan Sari, the Globalis Symphony Orchestra, and I had premiered Alan Hovhaness' Two Piano Concerto in Tchaikovsky Hall.

We were sitting at our two pianos in the cavernous recording studio at Moscow's House of Sound; (everything in Russia is conceived as 'big-enormous-grand,") a historic venue where "USSR State Symphony Orchestra" was still to be seen stenciled on the instrument cases standing guard in the corridors; corridors inhabited by the spirits of the so many great Soviet-era artists who had opened their hearts to the waiting microphones.

Now it was our turn.  We were to record Alan Hovhaness' two-piano work "Mihr"-a tribute to the ancient Armenian God of Fire, an etherial and other-worldly prismatic panopticon honoured by Wiilliam Saroyan who suggested accompanying texts to Hovhaness.

It was demanding and exacting work as all worthy recording sessions must be.  Again and again, over and over; our veteran producer even leaving her sound-proofed booth to conduct through some moments of precision ensemble.

My mind briefly wandered through my pidgeon Russian: Mihr-Mihr-the work's title kept hovering above the American and Turkish pianists recording an Armenian work, being directed by a Russian producer-Mihr-Mihr...Mir...

 Mir.  Peace.  Of course.





Posted by cristoforifund at 11:47 AM EDT
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A Modest Beginning-with Thanks to So Many
Life is rich.  It is filled with reward and good example.  If we look and listen, we experience an endless flow of inspiration, good deed and high character; of selflessness, generosity, and honest vision.

May I humbly share the first of these treasures:

Last November, I presented the Armenian Premiere performance of Alan Hovhaness' Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra-a work which the composer had given me in the early 1970's, with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra at Khatchaturian Hall in Yerevan.  The second pianist was one of my best Master-Class students, Atakan Sari, from Izmir, Turkey. He was the first Turkish soloist ever to perform with the Armenian Philharmonic and was given a heartfelt, warm and enthusiastic reception by both the musicians and the public.  The desire to create, share, and to experience beautiful music was the basis for this rewarding co-operation.  We had opened an important door for brotherhood and for peace.

Yet, it remained for an eight-year-old girl to show all of us the real truth and light.  After my return to the U.S.A., I happily shared video recordings of the concert with my young students.  The cameras clearly showed the Turkish Mr. Sari playing at his piano, his pages of the complicated Hovhaness score being turned by a young lady from Armenia.  

My eight-year-old asked about the page turner, "Is she his wife?"  Puzzled, I asked her why she said this.  "Because they look so much alike," came the most natural, observant, and enlightened answer that no politician, general, or president had ever been pure enough to realise.

Posted by cristoforifund at 1:12 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 October 2007 9:28 AM EDT
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