From the Bib­li­cal Ararat moun­tain . . .

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TICKET | SEVEN DAYS - TIGRAN HAMASYAN Cormac Larkin

Sa­cred spa­ces have a par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance for jazz pi­anist Tigran Hamasyan. His 2015 Luys i Luso (Light from Light) tour, with the Yere­van State Cham­ber Choir, brought him to churches and cathe­drals around the world – in­clud­ing Dublin’s Christ Church – blend­ing his del­i­cate, folk­in­flected im­pro­vi­sa­tions with the haunt­ing sa­cred mu­sic of his na­tive Ar­me­nia. This week, the 29-year-old vir­tu­oso re­turns alone to Christ Church, as part of the long-run­ning Wal­tons’ World Masters se­ries, for a solo con­cert­that will draw all those who heard him the last time, along with most of their friends.

Hamasyan is fol­lowed around by the sort of breath­less praise re­served for only the very top layer of in­stru­men­tal­ists in mu­sic, so here’s a little more. He was barely into his teens when he was “dis­cov­ered” at a jazz fes­ti­val in Ar­me­nia, and be­fore the age of 20, he had won the pi­ano award at the Mon­treux Jazz Fes­ti­val and the pres­ti­gious Th­elo­nious Monk Prize in New York. Since mov­ing to the US at the age of 16, he has recorded ac­claimed al­bums for Verve, ECM and None­such, and has re­ceived ap­prov­ing nods from fel­low pi­anists like Herbie Han­cock, Chick Corea and Brad Mehldau.

As well as jaw-drop­ping in­stru­men­tal tech­nique, there is an un­usual depth and sense of rev­er­ence in his play­ing. He has been par­tic­u­larly in­flu­enced by the sa­cred mu­sic of his home­land, a tra­di­tion that reaches back to the dawn of west­ern Chris­tian­ity, and he has re­cently re­turned to live in Yere­van, the Ar­me­nian cap­i­tal, where he drew in­spi­ra­tion for the mu­sic on his lat­est re­lease, An An­cient Ob­server.

“When I gaze out of my win­dow and see the bib­li­cal moun­tain Ararat with the per­pet­ual snow on its peak,” he says, “with fore­grounds of elec­tri­cal tow­ers with wires cutting the picture, and the satel­lite dishes melted on to old and mod­ern houses, an­ces­tral smoke com­ing out of the chim­neys and the birds hov­er­ing above the trees with oc­ca­sional air­plane trails in the vast­ness of the sky . . . for me it is an awak­en­ing.”

Hear­ing him per­form that mu­sic, alone in the vast nat­u­ral acous­tics of Christ Church Cathe­dral pm Satur­day night will be akin to a reli­gious ex­pe­ri­ence, even for the most con­firmed pa­gan. For more, see news­

As well as jaw-drop­ping in­stru­men­tal tech­nique, there is an un­usual depth and sense of rev­er­ence in his play­ing

Tigran Hamasyan


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