The Naghash Ensemble of Armenia, South Czech Philharmonic – „Songs of Exile“

A combination of classical and folk Armenian music with the energy of rock and jazz

Friday 2/8 2019, 19:30

 Castle Riding Hall


The Naghash Ensemble of Armenia

South Czech Philharmonic, conductor: John Hodian (USA, Armenia)

„Songs of Exile“

Music by John Hodian

Text by M’krtich Naghash


The Naghash Ensemble

Hasmik Baghdasaryan – Soprano

Tatevik Movsesyan – Soprano

Arpine Ter-Petrosyan – Alto

Emmanuel Hovhannisyan – Duduk/Zourna

Aramayis Nikoghosyan – Oud

Tigran Hovhannisyan – Dhol/Dumbek

John Hodian – Composer/Conductor


A combination of classical and folk Armenian music with the energy of rock and jazz

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John Hodian/M’krtich Naghash:

On Greed
In This World by Sin You Wander
On Behalf of Ghareebs
Composed in Exile


On the Vanity of this World
Futile Judgement
Passing in the Glory of this World
Lamentations for the Dead


The all-evening program titled “Songs of Exile” of The Naghash Ensemble and the string section of the South Czech Philharmonic is a combination of Armenian folk songs with classical music, contemporary post-minimalism and the energy of rock and jazz. The brilliant Armenian instrumentalists of The Naghash Ensemble, who play the duduk, oud, dhol and piano, will join forces with the South Czech Philharmonic to play music based on sacred texts by the medieval Armenian mystic poet M’krtich Naghash, under the baton of Armenian-American composer John Hodian. “Songs of Exile” are a deep meditation about the relationship of man and God from the point of view of a priest who was forced to live in exile for many years.

About artists

The idea to create The Naghash Ensemble came in 2008 when Hodian heard Hasmik Baghdasaryan singing medieval Armenian spiritual music at Garni Temple. The beauty of her voice combined with the acoustics at Garni remained in his mind for days and he vowed to write new music that would use this ancient sound in a new way. It took several years to discover the right text to set to music, but when he came across a fragment of the 15th century poet and priest Mkrtich Naghash, the words leapt off the page and into his soul.

John Hodian is an Armenian-American composer, conductor and pianist whose music combines his Armenian roots with classical composition and free improvisation. Born in Philadelphia, Hodian began formal studies in piano and composition at age 13. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in composition and conducting at The Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts where he studied conducting with Max Rudolf and was conductor of the Philadelphia New Music Ensemble. Hodian spent summers at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado where he studied piano and improvisation with Art Lande and Ralph Towner as well as literature and poetry with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. While teaching composition and music theory at the University of the Arts (Philadelphia), Hodian was associate conductor of The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. Between 1990 and 2010 Hodian created over 300 soundtracks for feature films and documentaries winning a New York Emmy Award for “Best Music for a Documentary”. He has created many chamber music works as well as music for theater and dance. In 1992, he founded the world/folk/improvisation ensemble Epiphany Project together with his partner, vocalist Bet Williams.

The South Czech Philharmonic, based in Ceske Budejovice (Budweis), was founded in 1981; its original name was The South Bohemian State Orchestra. At present it comprises of 40 artists and remains the only professional philharmonic orchestra in the South Bohemian region. Origins of the orchestra are associated with a Czech conductor Jaroslav Vodnansky; subsequently, the position of Chief Conductor was held by Ondrej Kukal, Bretislav Novotny, Jaroslav Krecek and Stanislav Vavrinek. The current Chief Conductor, Jan Talich, has been leading the orchestra since 2008. Besides interpreting the music of classical composers and pieces appropriate for chambre orchestras and smaller concert halls, the Philharmonic is dedicating increasing attention to the contemporary trend of interlinking genres and discovering new perspectives of both interpretation and presentation of music, and systematically strives to enhance its qualities. The majority of SCP members are young, ambitious, skillful and promising musicians, appreciating any opportunity to cooperate with other leading conductors and soloists. At present, the South Czech Philharmonic aspires to maintain the interest of existing attenders, while focusing on a younger audience and wider public and thus attracting those South Bohemians who have so far been more or less indifferent to classical music. There can be no doubt that the orchestra has a sufficient capacity, enthusiasm, and the right direction to achieve all of that.

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