ETHNOLAND (2008)-november. Number N#11 and page 28-29

Moscow Understood and Welcomed Me 

Marlena Mosh, a singer, poet, collector and performer of old Armenian melodies, was born in Stepanakert (Armenia). She graduated from Yerevan State University and went to music school. Subsequently she developed her musical education by taking lessons from well-known conservatory teachers. Now Marlena is a member of the Moscow Musical Society and Union of Russian Writers

Ethnosphere Magazine about Marlena Mosh

Marlena Mosh: 

“Moscow understood and welcomed me”. 

This year she became the prize winner of the Beauty Will Save the World Competition in Moscow and took first place in the Art and Friends Competition in Varna (Bulgaria). In summer of the same year Marlena opened  the Bulgaria for All Festival with the old Armenian song Kali Erg

  • I have been singing songs and writing verses since childhood, - remembers Marlena. – My mom had a wonderful and unforgettable voice, she combined everyday housework with unearthly singing. My father loved listening to her. But, best of all, he loved to recite verses and knew many of them by heart. Our family tried not to miss TV and radio musical programs, especially Bari Gisher. We, children, listened to caressing voices telling kind and eternal fairy tales. I myself have two children who also love musical fairy tales.

Marlena’s grandfather on her father’s side was the well-known musician Arutyun from the Armenian village of Seysulan. People from distant villages came to listen to him playing the zurna – an Armenian wind instrument. Marlena remembers that during her childhood she invented fairy tales and, having gathered her siblings and children from the yard, she prepared improvised stage performances. The puppets spoke and sang in different voices - both high-pitched and bass. 

After getting a higher education diploma Marlena worked at music schools in Yerevan for a few years and, later, in Moscow. She liked her job but her soul aspired to music. 

Marlena’s wonderful voice brought her the recognition of numerous listeners. Old Armenian melodies made her performances the most popular. The roots of Armenian melodies go back to the distant past. What were the melodies like, how did they sound? Naturally, the sound recording that we are used to did not yet exist at that time. The notes were recorded differently than now and not all the songs can be translated into the modern note language preserving all the subtleties of melizmatics – the small peculiar melodic ornamentals. This cause was taken up and successfully implemented by the outstanding Armenian composer, folklorist, singer, choir leader and the founder of Armenian scientific ethnography Sogomon Sogomonian (1869-1935), better known as Komitas. He collected examples of all possible records of old songs, reconstructed, sounded and converted them into the note system. Like an archeologist, Komitas went to the roots. Could those roots, perhaps, lead to the songs of Adam and Eve? 

It is Komitas who was Marlena’s main teacher as she thinks. 

  • Komitas achieved a lot but he was tragically interrupted on his way – says Marlena. – I thought it was my duty to continue his cause. His way is a special clue to the performance of old songs. I try to sing Armenian songs with the same breadth of sound with which genuine Russian folk songs are performed. This is how Russian-Armenian interpretation of melody occurred. The reasons are that we have a common heaven and earth.

In her young years, being a student, Marlena travelled throughout Armenia with a group of like minded people. She listened, remembered and recorded folk chants. The villagers joyfully welcomed the enthusiasts, gave them songs and home cheese with Armenian cracker bread. 

Later in Moscow Marlena set up the popular group “Lorik Jan” with musicians who play various folk instruments. Grant Airapetian plays kemancha (string bowed instrument), Papin Shakhbazian plays wind instruments (duduk, shvi, zurna) and Samvel Kazarian plays doli (percussion instrument). The well-known piano-player, Alexander Malkus who helped to collect rich musical material in the archives of the Russian State Library and other Moscow libraries, also joined the group. The performances of Marlena and her group “Lorik Jan” are always gladly welcome at the best stages of Moscow – Rakhmaninov Hall of the Conservatory, Svetlanov Hall of the House of Music, the Central House of Writers, the All-Russia Exhibition Centre , Museum of the Rerich Family, Bryusov Museum, the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, Library of Ukrainian literature, Federation for Peace and Conciliation, the Moscow House of Nationalities

  • I love my Yerevan –Marlena admits. – It is a special word, the sounds are so endearing, the wind is felt in the first two syllables and there is something lofty in the last one… The town of Stepanakert – I was born there. It looks as if it was located in a well. So many mountains are around which I love greatly. It has a special atmosphere, the people are proud and affectionate. A lot of green and dewberry (‘mosh’ in Armenian).

At the same time the theme of Moscow runs through Marlena’s creations. 

  • Moscow is an island above the earth where all cities are visible and close – assures Marlena. This is a river whose channel reaches and welcomes everyone. There is something festive in the way it sounds, something from salutes and so much energy! Moscow is the capital of the country where I was born. Moscow understood and welcomed me. It embraced me with the hearts of Muscovites.

Her voice flows naturally, like a mountain stream, she sings with amazing purity and soulfulness. Mosh found her unique performance style, at the same time preserving the genuinely Armenian intonation. 

  • Her voice flows naturally, like a mountain stream, she sings with amazing purity and soulfulness – says Victor Merzhanov, People’s Artist of the USSR, professor. – Mosh sings impressedly creating visible pictures. While listening to the ingenious song “Krunk” I imagined the tragism of this song. Mosh found her unique performance style, at the same time preserving the genuinely Armenian intonation.

Oh, Moscow, I so much love your night-shrouded, triumphant and crystal bridges. Across them I fly into penetrating Nutcracker’s rosy dreams through the whirl of lights. The first book of verses by Mosh, “Muse and Slave”, came out in 2004 and the second one, “Sound-Aftersound”, was published very recently. Marlena Mosh’s poetry is multifaceted. It embraces public spirit, patriotism, lyrics and philosophy. She writes verses in Russian, sings songs in Armenian and translates them into Russian by herself. 

Numerous discs have been recorded – a capella songs, Armenian dancing music. For example, Armenian folk music includes Anush’s aria from the opera with the same name, the old melodies Avik, Oror, Orovell and the epic song Mokatz Mirza. The disc Old Armenian Melodies includes Kali Erg and Gutani Erg. Sayat-Nova’s Melodies and Verses were recorded in the studio of Gnesin Music College. The videodisc Armenian Melodies represents a live concert in Glinka Museum. 

This year her solo concerts were held in the Russian capital, Kaluga, Zelenograd, Feodosia and Varna. When Marlena Mosh sings, the audience in the hall becomes motionless as if it were afraid of missing just one sound reaching directly the hearts of listeners. The concert is over but the audience, enfolded in silence, does not let the singer go, bursts into applause and splashes her with a sea of flowers.  

“My Muse thrills with verses and songs, awakens dormant feelings penetrating deeply. – says Marlena. – If a friend manages to wake up he turns into a Prince. If not, there is another song or verse for that. It is difficult to be a Prince, to throw away and burn down one’s shell. It is difficult to be sensitive and keen, to receive and take into oneself the waves of feelings. But after all, get up and wake up, my dear friend!”

à compléter