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


Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian described the works of The Naghash Ensemble as “the sound of ancient Armenia reinvented for the 21st century”. The project titled “Songs of Exile” is a combination of the spirituality of Armenian folk songs with classical music, contemporary post-minimalism and the energy of rock and jazz. The songs are based on sacred texts by the Armenian medieval mystical poet and priest M’krtich Naghash and 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. The brilliant Armenian singers and instrumentalists (who play exotic instruments – the duduk, oud and dhol) will join forces with the string section of the South Czech Philharmonic and perform under the baton of Armenian-American composer John Hodian, who set these texts to music. During the performance at the IMF Český Krumlov, The Naghash Ensemble will join forces with the South Czech Philharmonic to present the European premiere of the orchestral version of “Songs of Exile”. This extended version of the songs offers a very exciting sound – the piano and strings are perfectly balanced by Armenian folk instruments allowing the music to expand upon the many polyrhythms and contrapunctal lines (mutual overlapping of voices). The cooperation between the orchestra and the Armenian musicians thus brings a unique experience.

About artists

The Naghash Ensemble was founded in 2010 to play new music composed by John Hodian based on texts by the Armenian medieval mystical poet and priest M’krtich Naghash. The Naghash Ensemble combines the earthy spirituality of Armenian folk song, new classical music, contemporary post-minimalism and the energy of rock and jazz. Their “Songs of Exile” is a profound musical meditation on man’s relationship to God from the perspective of a monk forced to live in exile for many years. Consisting of some of Armenia’s finest musicians and singers, The Naghash Ensemble has been touring throughout Europe for the past 5 years. Their 2014 CD, “Songs of Exile” was the first of a projected three-volume set. The second CD, “Songs of Exile, Volume II: Credos & Convictions”, followed in 2016. The third and final volume of “Songs of Exile” will be released in the fall of 2019.

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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