The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble was founded in 2008 by the Armenian musician Levon Eskenian, with the aim of creating ethnographically authentic arrangements of the G.I. Gurdjieff/Thomas de Hartmann piano music. After performing the music of Gurdjieff in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia, now, beside the music of Gurdjieff, the ensemble features the music of Komitas. In his work as a collector of thousands of folk songs, sacred songs and instrumental melodies, Komitas explored the connections that uniquely bind together Armenian sacred and secular music. With their special focus on folk instrumentation and inspired arrangements the Gurdjieff Ensemble illuminates the deep roots of Komitas’s compositions in the new program. The ensemble consists of Armenia’s leading folk instrumentalists playing duduk, pogh, pku, zurna,saz, tar, kamancha, oud, kanon, santur, dap, tmbuk, dhol, burvar, kshots and bell.
The famous German record label, ECM records, released the Gurdjieff Ensemble’s recording “Music of Georges I. Gurdjieff” to international acclaim and prestigious awards. The album won the Edison Award in the Netherlands, the National Music Award in Armenia and was selected as the album of the week by many of the world’s prominent radio stations.
In October 2015, ECM will release the second album of the Ensemble, entitled, “Komitas”.
Gurdjieff (1866? -1949) is known to many in the West as one of the major spiritual figures of the 20th century. His extraordinary musical repertoire was based on the music he heard during his journeys in Armenia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and many parts of Central Asia, India and North Africa, where he witnessed a myriad of folk and spiritual music, rituals and dance traditions. Levon Eskenian has chosen and arranged those pieces that have roots in Armenian, Greek, Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, and Caucasian folk and spiritual music for Eastern folk instruments.
Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935) composer, priest, collector and arranger of folk songs, choirmaster, singer, rigorous researcher into khaz, the neumatic system developed in Armenia between the ninth century and the fifteenth, popularly held to be the founder of contemporary music in Armenia.
“A haunting and atmospheric selection of instrumental pieces… they range from drifting, mesmeric arrangements for the duduk Armenian woodwind to subtle, sparse passages, or more sturdy dance pieces played on the zither-like kanon, the oud or the santur dulcimer. An intriguing, often gently exquisite set.” The Guardian
“Sie präsentieren sich mit berückenden, sehnsuchtsvollen, tief beseelten Klängen, die auf musikalische Rituale des täglichen Lebens zurückgehen, auf Kirchen-, Liebes- und Tanzlieder, Hirtenmelodien und rituelle Musik. Das ist wie eine akustische Brücke über die Jahrhunderte und ein Toleranzprogramm der Weltgegenden.” Mitteldeutsche Zeitung