I was cleaning out my filing cabinet the other day
or, rather, I was thinking about cleaning it out and remembered I had a press kit from the concert the Armenian Prelacy organized for Alan Hovhaness in honor of his 80th birthday. I was studying with him at the time and brashly asked him if I could tag along. I don’t know why, but he said yes. It was 1991 and the concert was at Carnegie Hall – I had never been to New York. This was over 20 years ago and my memory of the trip is a bit fuzzy – although the press kit has jarred some memories loose – so I’ll try to tell you a few things i do remember.
A Symphony had been commissioned
for the concert by the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. I was able to see the piece – bits at a time – while he was composing, talk to him about it, and then see it performed. I have a discarded page of a sketch from this piece in the pic gallery below.
I remember meeting Karel Husa
and thinking he was a very dynamic personality. Luckily – and quite by accident – I had been studying one of his scores, I think it was Two Sonnets by Michelangelo, so I had something to ramble about.
I got to go to all the rehearsals
at the rehearsal hall downtown and at Carnegie. Walking around the floor in Carnegie listening to orchestra rehearse was a pretty amazing. When they were rehearsing – I think it was Armenian Rhapsody No. 1, – there was a question on a particular passage and a bit of discussion about how it should be played. Alan wasn’t there and I don’t remember if they called him at the hotel or exactly what, but after a few minutes someone spoke up and and said “Hovhaness would like us to follow our intuition.” This was so typical of Alan – it is the most important thing he ever taught me.
from Alan that always makes me smile. I had shared with him that, when I was growing up, my father was in the Air Force and for a few years we were stationed in Adana, Turkey. Alan, for some reason, felt this was a connection between us – contrary to, and despite, the well known tensions between Armenia and Turkey. But he always got it mixed up – thinking I had been born there and/or had some Turkish blood. Hinako, his wife, kept trying to set the story straight by reminding him that I was “too white to be near eastern.”