Fostering Armenia’s future cadre of top musicians
A conversation with the Kammerton program’s Lyudmila von BergLyudmila von Berg is president of EuroCon, a German nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating economic, cultural, scientific, and humanitarian collaboration between Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union.
Following its establishment in Berlin in 2008, EuroCon chose Armenia as the site of its inaugural initiative. The program, called Kammerton, identifies exceptionally talented young musicians enrolled in various music academies and helps foster their artistic and professional advancement through tuition sponsorships, overseas performances, master classes and seminars, and other musical-exchange projects.
Kammerton was made possible by the efforts of von Berg, several supporters in Germany, and the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, particularly through Gilbert Momdjian, chairman of the fund’s German affiliate.
Q – Kammerton has already made great strides, by encouraging the musical and professional growth of many talented young musicians from throughout Armenia. What was the impetus for launching Kammerton?
A – As it often happens in life, Kammerton grew out of friendship. In 1997, during a work trip in Armenia, I was fortunate to meet Hasmik Hakobyan, a music teacher at one of Yerevan’s conservatories. We became friends. Afterwards I visited Armenia every year, not only because I was on assignment but given the fact that I grew very fond of the country and the wonderful people I associated with. I was always surrounded with great warmth and lots of music. Also, from the outset, I was fascinated by the extraordinary artistry of Hakobyan’s students, and in time decided to do something to help secure their future as prolific musicians.
That’s how EuroCon came about. It was founded in Berlin in 2008, with the support of Mr. Gerald Venk, and the nonprofit organization’s very first initiative was the Kammerton program.
Currently the program’s beneficiaries are 14 Armenian musicians between the ages of six and 16 who pursue a range of specializations in various music academies.
Our goals are: a) to include in the program as many talented kids as possible and help in their musical and professional growth – by providing them with financial assistance as well as opportunities to attend master classes in Armenia and abroad, perform in youth orchestras, and participate in music competitions; and b) to enable the Kammerton Ensemble to perform concerts in Armenia and countries throughout the world – a prospect which helps forge ensemble members’ identities as musicians and cultural ambassadors alike.
Q- Kammerton beneficiaries have already appeared in a number of outstanding performances. What’s next?
A – Kammerton is a great success story. In the span of one year the ensemble completed two tours in Germany, enchanting audiences with its virtuosity and high level of professionalism.
A new German tour is planned for December 2009, when the ensemble will probably perform at one of the German ministries, during a high-profile awards ceremony.
Two more tours will follow in 2010, possibly accompanied by performances in other Western European countries as well. Apart from these, the Kammerton musicians will attend master classes in Armenia and Germany, and receive fellowships in various international youth orchestras. To this end, we plan on inviting docents and music professors from Germany to conduct classes in Armenia.
Q – What can you tell us about the teachers of Kammerton musicians?
A – While we’re extremely proud of these young musicians’ achievements, it’s important to note that what we essentially do is help build on the excellent education they already receive at Armenia’s music academies. That education is the result of the dedication and exemplary professionalism of a great corps of teachers, to whom we convey our gratitude.
Q – It’s hard to imagine any project of the Kammerton program’s scope being realized without assistance from visionary individuals and organizations. Can you name some of the program’s major supporters?
A - From the beginning, the program was supported by individual sponsors in Germany. Today these sponsors continue to support our work with even greater enthusiasm, especially since attending performances by the Kammerton Ensemble and getting to meet the young musicians.
As for organizations, early on we received the support of the Goethe Institute, which is active in numerous countries around the world and is a major proponent of international cultural exchanges.
We also receive assistance from the German Foreign Ministry, through the Germany Embassy in Armenia. Finally, we’re extremely thankful to the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund and especially Mr. Gilbert Momdjian for their continued support and interest.
Q – How does Kammerton facilitate exchanges between young musicians in Armenia and those in other countries?
A – Of course the groundwork for Kammerton’s international scope is already laid by the fact that it’s a German program being implemented in Armenia. At this juncture we intend to increase ties and exchanges between young musicians in Germany and Armenia. Specifically, we plan on facilitating joint attendance of master classes, seminars, and regular courses of study, and also strengthening ties between music teachers in Germany and Armenia. The overarching goal of these activities is to build international cultural bridges. This is of particular importance to the youth, in terms of helping them acquire new languages and learn about diverse cultures.
As we continue to make progress in this respect, I would also like to express our thanks to the parents of Kammerton musicians, who continue to bring their generous support to all of our projects.
Hasmik V. Grigoryan
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