doctoral candidate in the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has conducted research on Armenian music in the United States, Russia, Turkey and Armenia. Additional research interests include music and labor in the early music communities, music in sport and fitness cultures, and sound studies. A violinist and singer, she performs a wide variety of music from Europe and the Middle East.
KOMITAS, PÉROTIN, AND HILDEGARD:
PROGRAMMING ARMENIAN FOLK MUSIC IN THE UNITED STATES AND WESTERN EUROPEAN EARLY MUSIC ENSEMBLES
Scholarship on Komitas has documented his expertise in both folk and medieval music. Less studied is how his research activities compare to movements that have sought to articulate the relationship between folk culture and early music in different contexts around the world. As discussed by musicologist Elizabeth Upton (2012), folk music and early music revivals in mid-twentieth-century Western Europe were closely intertwined, inspiring intense debates over performance style and instrumentation. At the heart of these debates were issues of authenticity and identity, as both early music and folk music were ascribed a purity thought to have been lost in the classical music tradition. This paper discusses the descendants of those revivals: today’s early music ensembles in the United States and Western Europe. In particular, it investigates the emergent practice of programming Armenian folk music with Western European early music. Why are early music performers in the United States and Western Europe interested in Armenian folk music? What connections, if any, do they have to local Armenian diaspora communities? What stylistic influences inform their performances? Who are their audiences, and how does encountering Armenian folk music in such contexts affect a person’s perception of Armenian culture? Drawing on interviews with musicians from the United States and Western Europe, this paper suggests that today’s early music performers are reimagining the relationship between folk and medieval music in a way that reflects specific twenty-first-century concerns over neoliberal capitalism, globalization, and religious fundamentalism; the incorporation of repertoire from outside Western Europe is an integral part of this practice. Incorporating ethnomusicological theories of historiography, interculturality, and exoticism, the paper concludes by identifying some implications for Armenian music performance and scholarship.