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The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble

Posted by lahar9jhadav on August 30, 2011


The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble was founded in 2008 by the Armenian musician Levon Eskenian with the aim of creating ethnographically authentic arrangements of the G.I. Gurdjieff/Thomas de Hartmann piano music. The ensemble consists of leading Eastern folk instrumentalists in Armenia playing duduk, blul/nay, saz, tar, kiamancha, oud, kanon, santur, dap/daf, tombak and dhol. Its repertoire mainly consists of G.I.Gurdjieff’s original compositions, as well as some works by ashoughs’ (troubadours), traditional and spiritual Armenian pieces chosen to further illustrate Gurdjieff’s musical influences. Organized by Naregatsi Art Institute, the ensemble had its first concerts in Gyumri, Armenia–Gurdjieff’s birthplace.

Through rigorous study of the instrumentation and performance practices of the musical traditions of each ethnic group, Levon Eskenian has chosen and arranged those pieces that have roots in Armenian, Greek, Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, and Caucasian folk and spiritual music for Eastern folk instruments. From an ethno-musicological perspective, these pieces are a valuable source of information on Eastern ritual, folk, and sacred music from an era before audio recordings.

‘We have learned from de Hartmann’s notes that Gurdjieff gave much importance to the perception of Eastern music and how it was played on authentic Eastern folk instruments. In 1919, Gurdjieff sent de Hartmann and his wife to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, where de Hartmann gave concerts of European music and of works by Armenian composer Komitas (The pillar of Armenian classical music,ethnomusicologist and decipherer of khaz–the Armenian music notation system). As de Hartmann describes, “Mount Ararat was wrapped in a shroud of mist—an unforgettable sight. To accompany this vision there was authentic Eastern music played on…the tar-a kind of stringed instrument. Through this trip to Erivan….Gurdjieff gave us the opportunity of listening to Eastern music and musicians, so that I could better understand how he wished his own music to be written and interpreted.”’

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