Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   21 July

Independence unites all Armenians: Isabel Bayrakdarian's interview to Armenpress

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 20, ARMENPRESS. Canadian-Armenian opera singer, prominent soprano, winner of a number of contests. A woman, who performed in the world's major opera houses, recital stages and concert halls. An artist with perpetual and exquisite talent. Isabel Bayrakdarian is very popular in Armenia. Each of her visits becomes a feast for her fans and experts of the realm, who highly appreciate her art. "Armenpress" News Agency introduces interview with the world-known singer.

- You visited Armenia at 2004. Have You been here since then? What are your feelings about Your native country?

- Not only did I visit Armenia in 2004, I came back to get married in Geghart, then came back again and again for many concerts and opera-in-concert with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra.  Later I also recorded the album "Gomidas Songs", again with my good friends at the APO, which got nominated for a Grammy in 2008.

- I know, that when You were young, You sang in Armenian church. What do You remember of that experience and those days?

- When I think to the church of my childhood in Zahle Lebanon, the immediate mental image is that of a small candle-lit church with dim lighting, the sweet smell of incense and wax candles, and the 6-7 year old me standing in choir in front of my mother, feeling protected by her and enveloped by the love of God, while singing the incomparably beautiful hymns and medieval sharagans of our church, which are the direct pathway to God.

- Which Armenian artist does inspire You the best?

- If I have to choose (and there are many) I would choose Cathy Berberian.  First and foremost, I admire her versatility and her artistry, which are completely unique.  She took risks, explored new repertoire, sang the entire range of the female voice, had many great composers of the 20th century write new works for her, and on top of that, she was extremely witty and funny as a person.  I love her curious mind and her love of life, which is something I identify with and respect immensely.

- What are You working on at this moment? Is there a new soundtrack which You are going to prepare?

- My new recording "Troubadour and the Nightingale" is going to be released in a month and I’m happy to say that in addition to songs by Ravel and my husband Serouj Kradjian, it will also include a group of lovely troubadour songs by Sayat Nova, which were arranged for chamber orchestra by Serouj.

- Tell us about Your teachers. Who made You love music and singing?

- The love of music was always within me, but if you don't have the proper tools, you can’t bring your passion to fruition.  When I was young and singing in church, I always felt that I should be doing more justice to this divine music, and that the technical limitations of an untrained voice was a hindrance to my communication with God.  This is the reason, pure and simple, as to why I started to take singing lessons.  It wasn't some grand fantasy about singing on stage and making dazzling sounds and having people applaud.

Born in Lebanon of proud Armenian heritage and now a citizen of Canada, Ms. Bayrakdarian moved with her family to Toronto as a teenager. Her earliest singing experience was at church, which remains – along with her family – the central focus of her life. She holds an honors degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Ms. Bayrakdarian sings on the Grammy® award-winning soundtrack of the blockbuster film The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers, and her voice can also be heard in the multiple award-winning Canadian film Ararat. She has been honored with four Juno awards, Canada's highest recording prize, most recently for her CD Mozart arie & duetti with fellow Canadians Russell Braun and Michael Schade. Expanding her vast discography, Ms. Bayrkdarian was a guest soloist with the Canadian band Delerium on their 2007 Grammy® nominated dance remix "Angelicus." Ms. Bayrakdarian is the subject of a CBC-TV film entitled A Long Journey Home that documents her first trip to Armenia; on another trip there she recorded a disc of songs by the country's national composer, Gomidas Vartabed (1869-1935), with Serouj Kradjian and the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra which is available on the Nonesuch label and was a 2009 Grammy® nominee.

Exclusive Interview by Roza Grigoryan

Photos by Arthur Harutyunyan

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