The Oshakan Trio

The Oshakan Trio consists of the singer Seyran Avakian, kanonist Shushan Saghatelian and composer Grigor Arakelian who also plays the tav kemani. The Trio is part of the twelve members of the Oshakan ensemble.
Oshakan Trio’s aims are, firstly, to continue in the path of musicians that created intimate music, like those of ‘goussans’ and ‘ashoughs’. Secondly, to perpetuate the popular tradition of musical epics which revolve around storytelling, and finally, to preserve the popular music of grand masters, such as Komitas.
The music of the Oshakan Trio acquires a new emotion. Indeed, it marks an aesthetic revival of the post-Soviet Armenian music, not that of the popular but rather populist musics. It resolutely takes a route which would emerge from the “electro-disco synthetic” music obstacles, with tasteless texts subdued by a precious back-up and drum beats or some suitable rumblings. All in all, a lively and scholarly music without the metronome (the pendulum) acting as a "political police chief" (or as an overall regulator).
Moreover, as Komitas who had thought of polyphony of Armenian music (not harmonised), the music of Trio Oshakan is committed to the modernity of traditional music. The Trio’s music does not create any unnecessary conflict between tradition and modernity; it simply creates a modern rendering of the traditional. The audience feels the impalpable atmosphere, similar to one generated when looking through the glass at a miniature or a book of medieval manuscripts at a museum, absorbing the intangible, spiritual beauty. The question that befits here is, is it the role of polyphony or harmonization to protect a monody ?

Think of the power of the image that does not move but allows us to imagine. This powerful force is transcended by the art of music, intermingling our senses, enabling us to look with our ears and listen with our eyes. The diverse musical treasures of Oshakan Trio are guaranteed to have that enchanting effect on us.

Gerard Der Haroutiounian (June 2009)

With their "Gardens of Paradise of Armenia" program, the Trio covers the intimate music of courtly love, traditional music, and the musical rendition of medieval epics. This diverse choice renders Trio’s music an impressionistic style, which is profound, vibrant but also festive.

With this program, Oshakan Trio offers a musical journey tracing ten centuries of Armenian folklore. Being at the epicentre of the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Turkish, Persian and Arab worlds, as well as the Christian and Muslim religions, Armenia has acquired a strong cultural identity of diverse influences. From the mystical and lyrical poetry of the monks of the tenth century to the musical pieces of Komitas - an influential figure in the revival of Armenian national music in the early twentieth century - through to the medieval tradition of ashoughs (troubadours), the Trio revives these musical treasures, some of them never released before . These ballads, odes, sacred music and popular songs evoke the gardens of Eden, paradise on earth that the Bible places in Upper Mesopotamia, in the heart of Armenia, the idyllic land between East and West. With the accompaniment of tav Kemani and Kanon - both traditional Armenian instruments - Oshakan Trio’s intimate, festive but profound interpretations reveal the history of their country.


1. “Mokats Mirza” Mirzà Mok. Epic song 7-12th centuries
2. “Havoun-Havoun” Bird-bird. Grigor Narekatsi, 10th century solo kanon
  “Khorhourd Khorin” Profound mystery. Khatchatour Taronetsi 13th century solo kemani
3. “Yet ou Aradj” Front and rear. Folk dance (variant Komitas) Kanon and Kemani
4. “Ahegh Dzayn” Terrible voice. Grigor Narekatsi, 10th century
5. “Amen Aravot” Every morning. Grigoris Akhtamartsi, 16th century
6. - 7. Two passages of the epic of David Sassoon. 7-12th centuries
8. “Zouyg mi Krounk” A pair of cranes. Popular
9. “Baghi Pate” The wall of the orchard. Popular
10. “Lorva Goutanerg” Song of tillage Lori. Popular a cappella
11. “Voghberg” Lamentation. Popular
12. Kanon solo (improvisation) more than 3 songs of troubadours
13. Love song. Naghach Hovnathan, 17th century
14. Always you are wise. Sayat-Nova, 18th century
15. Kamantcha. Sayat-Nova, 18th century
16. “Terterouk” Vibration. Popular dance
17. “Lorik” Little Quail, “Mokats Chouken”. Popular
18. Series of dance tunes. Popular

arrangements – Grigor Arakelian

Seyran Avakian, baritone, daf
Shushan Saghatelian, kanon
Grigor Arakelian, kemani


Grigor ARAKELIAN - tav kemani - Artistic director and soloist

Born in Yerevan in 1963, Grigor studied at the Music School of Sayat Nova from 1975 to 1980. In 1981, he joined the Komitas Conservatory where he studied under A.Tchaushian and got an award for cello in 1985. In 1987, he joined the composition class of Edward Mirzoyan where he worked in the field of religious and popular music, exploring new avenues in the use of Armenian instruments. His works followed the musical legacy of Father Komitas in particular. In 1986, he created the Pyunik ensemble and directed it until 1996, before becoming music director of the Masters of Music of Armenia which gave him the opportunity to appear on many European stages. In 2006 he created the choral and instrumental Oshakan ensemble and appeared on the "Armenia, my friend" program of Studio 104 Radio France. He plays on an instrument which he has designed himself, with the help of master luthier Martin Yeritsian. His extensive musicological studies discuss the medieval Armenian songs and their musical writing characteristics based on subtle but balanced instruments and voices. He creates his melodies with a touch of musical impressionism.

Shushan SAGHATELIAN - Kanon

Born in Yerevan in 1970, Shushan is a rare musician in playing the kanon. Indeed, she is considered as one of the foremost virtuosi of her generation in Armenia. She has studied at Vanadzor, then State Conservatory of Erevan with Alavarde Mirzoyan. Joining Oshakan Trio in 2011, Shushan’s solid academic education, experience and exceptional talent radiate authenticity and purity in her performances, creating a fine expression that combines passion, sensuality and subtlety. Her music is full of grace which emanantes through the lyrical passages and evokes a magical, mystical and nostalgic feeling. The audience becomes part of the emotional ambiance which dominates every hall where Oshakan is at concert..

Seyran AVAKIAN - Baritone

Seyran is known in Armenia as a benchmark, one of the best interpreters of songs of bards (i.e. troubadours, poets and epic narrators). Although his education was in classical music at the Conservatory of Yerevan, and he has built a repertoire of Western songs over his career, he remained more attached to interpreting the songs of bards and popular music, which he does with an exceptional talent. Seyran Avakian’s brilliant and blazing tone of voice immediately attracts the attention of the listener. His interpretation of declamatory style songs is particularly poignant. Relatively few people today perform these songs of bards and songs of epic poetry because of the difficulty of their interpretation. It should be noted that in the technique of medieval Armenian music, the main condition for quasi-control of a performance lies in the subtle voice of the singer. Seyran’s interpretations express the feelings of the Armenian people very well: the love and lamentation, the warrior ardor and inner peace, the humility of heart and wisdom, that have marked the Armenian spirit since the earliest of times.

All translation into english was done by: Nairi Translation Services