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[Listening to Armenia]: Lucineh Hovanissian’s Eclectic Musical Mastery.

April 16, 2010

By Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

Being a creator today means stacking up against the creativity of so many who’ve lived before. And if you love everything from 1000 years ago to yesterday, that’s a lot of eclectic influence to sift through. It’s no wonder many musicians and composers feel they have to choose a period or a style to focus upon, to quiet the clamor of the ages.

But, ultimately, why not enjoy it all? We’ve entered, afterall, the age of definition destruction and space compression (around the world in 180 days? more like hours!). That’s why I’ve enjoyed Lucineh Hovanissian’s performances and repertoire so much. She hasn’t restricted herself to choosing. She doesn’t even categorize herself, “I’m a singer, composer, and improviser.”

Lucineh Hovanissian

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Credit: Katariina Anttilla

In Lucineh’s world, Sayat Nova meets jazz piano joins folk expression and blends with scatting speeches. Singing at her piano, she’ll marry German and Italian song with her modern Soviet (jazz and classical) upbringing while touching the mystical middle ages on the side.  Not to mention, one performance will take you all across Armenia with songs from her ancestral homeland of Van to the far mountainous regions of Karabagh. And on the way back, you might end up stopping by Paris for a croon and tipping your hat at New York without missing a swinging beat.

When one has built up one’s musical technique and talent to a point that it serves one rather than pigeon-holing by what it lacks, one is free. Lucineh’s unbridled expression lives through her voice and nimble fingers flying across the black and whites. She improvises on known works (she does a mean scatting Sabre Dance, for example), writes her very own, or simply interprets age-old songs and will perform all with fluidity and vigorous confidence.

Lucineh Hovanissian

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Credit: Festival Des Musiques Et Du Monde

I was taken by her jazz-cabaret style performance in New York City’s “unWINEd” where she engaged the audience with fascinating explanations of each work’s source or inspiration. Afterwards, I asked her what she would choose to say of her relationship to music in general. Lucineh’s response certainly rang true with what I’d experienced from her playing first hand: Fantasy & freedom have no other limits besides those one puts [on] him or herself. From this point of view, NYC is a special place for an artist!

Lucineh is from Yerevan but just as her music travels across the globe, so does she. Her next live performance will be in France. But you can listen to streaming clips of her work here. Check out the video below from her NYC performance featuring her own version of Humoresque, full of Gomidas references and Gershwin-like turns reminiscent of An American in Paris.

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