Soli Deo Gloria Announces the Premiere of a New Commission by Armenian Composer Vache Sharafyan

Soli Deo Gloria is pleased to announce a new music commission project with one of the most important living composers from Armenia, Vache Sharafyan. His new work, Have Mercy on Me, O God, is written for tenor and string quartet and will be premiered on September 25, 2011, at the opening concert for the Dilijan Chamber Music Series at the Zipper Hall, Colburn School of the Performing Arts.

Zipper Hall
Colburn School of Performing Arts
Los Angeles, CA

The Dilijan Chamber Music Series is dedicated to showcasing traditional pieces of Western classical chamber music, as well as Armenian chamber works. Founded by members of the Lark Musical Society, Dilijan endeavors to present to the public a variety of distinguished instrumentalists of an international caliber. Moreover, Dilijan strives to present world premieres of chamber music commissioned by contemporary Armenian composers.

Vache Sharafyan, born in Yerevan, Armenia, is the author of numerous symphonic, chamber, vocal and choral compositions that are performed widely by many leading musicians, and is an official composer for The Silk Road Project founded by cellist Yo Yo Ma.

His Silk Road compositions include The Morning Scent of the Acacia’s Song for duduk (Armenian folk oboe) and string quartet (as well as version for duduk, soprano and string orchestra) and The Sun, the Wine and the Wind of Time for duduk, violin, cello and piano. These have been performed by Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble in Cologne Philharmonic hall, Brussels Philharmonic hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, in USA: Carnegie (Stern) Hall, Carnegie (Zankel) Hall, Berkeley, Stanford Universities, Seattle Benaroya Hall, Washington National Mall, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall, and in Rome, Florence, Milan.

Vache Sharafyan
Photo: Maxim Novikov

When we asked Mr. Sharafyan about his composition of Have Mercy, he responded by saying:

"I would like to start my answer with an attempt to open the borders of Goethe’s statement, 'Music begins where words end.' I would say that music begins on the edge of the highest point of words’ climactic form, poetry. Far, and far from that beginning point, music becomes more and more universal, free of the borders of the words; it becomes a spiritual language—a voice of the soul to express what is impossible to say by words.

"As I worked with the text of Psalm 51, I had in mind, of course, the meaning of the text and the situation that caused King David to confess:

A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
(1) Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
(2) Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
(3) For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(12) Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
(15) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
[New International Version]*

"Armenia Mesrop Mastots"
by Francesco Majotto

"Since I was working with an English translation, I followed the English language intonation, but I followed my own expressiveness as well, which comes from my inheritance from a large number of cultural strata. Inevitably, my musical thought is influenced by the expressiveness of the Armenian medieval sacred hymns.

"The adoption of Christianity as the Armenian governmental religion in 301, and the establishment of the Armenian alphabet by St. Mesrop Mashtots in the fifth century, initiated the development a new body of sacred hymns called sharakans. They were based on Armenian language intonations and expressiveness and accents, and within this musical language, the authors followed the meaning of the sacred texts, striving to make the hymns as expressive as possible.

"Another important influence on me is the sound, the voice of Jerusalem, where I lived and worked for four years at the Armenian Theological Seminary. There, I was enriched by many musical languages and intonations from so many and such deep spiritual traditions.

Saghmosavank Monastery
"Church of the Psalms"
Central Armenia

"Also very important for me is the concept of a triangle comprised of composer-performer-audience. In my opinion, music is alive when it has a universal character that lets, and even inspires, performers to express through that their own individual thoughts and feelings. When this somehow mystic characteristic is at work in the musical triangle, the music is kept alive.

"I think there is a parallel here between music and prayer. When we say the same prayer with the same words, when we pray the same Psalm, each of us is also sending to the Eternal our individual prayer and message."


For the September 25th premiere of Sharafyan’s Have Mercy on Me, O God, the tenor soloist is Daniel Plaster, and the string quartet includes Movses Pogossian and Varty Manouelian, violins; Gina Coletti, viola; and Vardan Gasparyan, cello. Movses Pogossian is Artistic Director of the Dilijan Chamber Music Series, as well as a Professor of Violin and Chair of Strings at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

3:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Zipper Concert Hall
200 S. Grand Ave (across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall)
Los Angeles, CA 90012

For ticket information, contact the Dilijan Chamber Music Series, (818) 500-9997.


*Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.