Chookasezian, a native of New York, who has been playing
Armenian Folk Music for over 35 years, founded the Chookasian
Armenian Concert Ensemble. He has performed with for both
Armenian and non-Armenian communities from the Eastern Seaboard
to the West Coast in United States. He holds a Graduate
degree from University of Nevada in Music and Education,
where he taught Music and Ethnic Studies for three years.
John, who is a premier clarinetist, along with his singer
wife Barbara and the entire Chookasian Armenian Concert
Ensemble were invited to Armenia for performances in 1999.
This turned out to be a historic series of concerts in the
Republic of Armenia. Since 1994 the ensemble has been presenting
Traditional Armenian Concert Programs encompassing the classical,
folkloric, and the troubadour music from both Eastern and
Chookasezian was raised in a family of musicians in
San Francisco. Her entire life was centered around the music,
dance, and culture of her heritage. For the past 25 years
Barbara has taught Armenian singing and Armenian folk dance
classes. Presently she is the premier-featured vocalist
and a percussionist of the Chookasian Armenian Concert Ensemble.
Alimian and her family recently immigrated to the United
States from Armenia. At a very young age she began her training
on the kanun (similar to zither). She studied the kanun
in her formative years and graduated from the Yerevan Conservatory
of Music where she mastered the most difficult techniques
on the kanun. She was the principal kanun player in many
traditional ensembles. She is a musical purist with a vast
repertoire of is a tremendous asset to the Chookasian the
troubadour and rare folk music of Armenia.
Avoyan was attracted to percussion instruments since
early childhood. He started playing the dohul (double-sided
hand drum) at an early age. A graduate of Yerevan Conservatory
of Music, he was invited to begin his musical career by
joining the National State Folk Ensemble in 1972. He performed
within this ensemble throughout the world for over25 years.
He Armenian Concert Ensemble.
Mekhrabian, born in Yerevan moved to Baku, Azerbaijan
with his family during his teenage years. After graduating
from the Conservatory of Music in Baku, Suren excelled on
the tar, traditional double-bodied, fretted lute. Since,
he has been a super star in his own right. Suren became
one of the most sought after instrumentalists in the Caucasus.
He has recorded with the most famous artists from the Caucasus
and the Balkan countries. Suren, a rare talent indeed is
the newest member of the Ensemble.
Petrosyan began his musical education at a very early
age, by playing percussion instruments first, and later
gravitated to string instruments. He chose to play a unique
but difficult instrument called santur (similar to dulcimer).
Upon graduating Music Conservatory of Yerevan he joined
the outstanding Armenian State Folk Ensemble and toured
for many years. His great artistry adds a new dimension
to the Chookasian Armenian Concert Ensemble.
Vartanian studied music formally in a number of musical
institutions throughout Armenia. He is a master performer
on the wide range of Armenian wind instruments. The main
instrument that Albert plays in the Ensemble is the duduk,
(a double reed, wooden flute made from sycamore tree). This
uniquely Armenian instrument has a soft, beautifully haunting
Armenian Concert Ensemble
do not often hear the time-honored Armenian music played
anymore. The music is seldom presented on the original instruments,
which we (Armenians) have played over the ages. My wife
and I are greatly concerned about where traditional Armenian
music is headed
our place in Armenian music is to preserve
the old songs, and to present them in the traditional way.
It is our vision that in the future, our children's grandchildren
will also know this beautiful music."
Fresno-based Chookasian Armenian Concert Ensemble is in
a rather enviable position; it is the only performing ensemble
of Armenian music in the United States. It is also the only
group of its kind to present concerts specifically designed
to included both Eastern and Western Armenian musical selections
in the same performance. The main aspiration of the Ensemble
is to preserve, promote and perpetuate the music of the
Armenian people, as well as to promote intra-Armenian culture
the direction of John Chookasian, this noteworthy ensemble
performs the classical folkloric and troubadour musical
works of the 16th to 19th centuries. Their interpretation
of Armenian melodies are performed on a variety of traditional
instruments. In 1999, the Chookasian Armenian Ensemble received
an invitation from Robert Kocharianthe, Armenian President,
inviting them to present a series of concerts in Armenia.
Received with great enthusiasm, the Ensemble was awarded
an Armenian Gold Medal Music Award, thereby making them
the only musical group in the United States to receive such
an honor from the Armenian government.
ensemble features John Chookasian on clarinet and percussion,
Barabara Chookasian as principal vocalist and on percussion,
Vergine Alimian on kanun, Henrick Avoyan on dohol, Suren
Mekhrabian on tar and oud, Sarkis Petrosyan on santur, and
Albert Vardanyan on duduk, shivee and zurna. If you have
not had the opportunity to hear the music of the Chookasian
Armenian Concert Ensemble, now is the time to experience
the beauty of this unique musical
Fresno resident John Chookasian's Chookasian Armenian Concert
Ensemble is the one of the few of its kind in the US, performing
the repertoire from the rich, centuries-old secular vein
of Armenian classical music.
on traditional Middle Eastern instruments, the ensemble
appears as part of the Old First Church Concerts Series,
and it will be a great opportunity to familiarize yourself
with Armenian musical language in preparation for the SF
Opera's US premiere of Tigran Chukhadjian's Arshak II this