Lilit Grigoryan: The type of an Armenian

Every spring, the verdant branches of the thousand-year-old tree of life of the Armenians become strong and enrich the foliage with herbs, and the tree is revived. They stretch upwards and spread…become scattered across the globe. Wherever they live, the root is here, on the Armenian land. It is from this land that Armenians are nourished and it is this land that Armenians want to be on.

Hayern Aysor’s interlocutor is pianist Lilit Grigoryan.

Hayern Aysor: Tell us about your first memory of music, your first teacher and your first steps in the world of music.

Lilit Grigoryan: The piano has been a part of my life since childhood. Music has always ben heard in our home. My mother, Nona Voskanyan is a musicologist, and my father, Hovik Grigoryan – a physic. He also plays the piano well. My first memories of music are associated with them. I remember listening to my parents play Beethoven’s symphonies together. My parents shared the following story with me: When I was very little (about one or two years old), my mother took me to the Alexander Spendiaryan Music School where she was working. Arkuhi Harutyunyan, who later became my first teacher, looked at my hands and said I had the hands of a pianist and that I must become a pianist when I grow up. When I turned 7, she became my piano teacher.

I have loved the stage and everything associated with the stage since childhood. At the age of 10, I participated in the “Gifted People-95” Festival, passed all the stages and became the first award recipient. I also performed for the first time with the State Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Loris Tjeknavorian. Later, I was included in the “New Names” charity program under the direction of Silva Mekinyan. I gained a lot of experience during the concerts and performances through the “New Names” charity program.

After I graduated from school, I got accepted to Professor Sergey Sarajyan’s class at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, and this marked the beginning of a new stage in my life. Every time I visit Armenia, I meet with my teacher. For me, it is like giving a report. I play and listen to her opinion.

I still attach great importance to the opinions and words of advice of Arkuhi Harutyunyan and Sergey Sarajyan.

Hayern Aysor: How did you find yourself in Germany? How was your professional advancement and career arranged abroad?

Lilit Grigoryan: I was still studying at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory when I got accepted to Matthias Kirsnereit’s class at the Conservatory of Music and Theater in Rostock. At first, I couldn’t imagine that I would become strongly attached to this city. I was continuing my studies in Armenia at the same time. Afterwards, I graduated from Yerevan State Conservatory and the Conservatory of Music and Theater in Rostock. I have been Kirsnereit’s assistant for the past couple of years. My job is very interesting, and I do it with responsibility.

There have been many fortuities that have made me happy, and one of them was my encounter with Maria Joao Pires.

After a performance in Berlin, I received an invitation from the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Belgium. I improved my skills with Maria Joao Pires, and now we are working together.

Maria helped me start a revolution as a great pianist and as a person. Her philosophy, her dedication to the arts and the performing arts, her love for nature and the willingness to share that love with people set an example for me. I am happy that I had the opportunity to learn from and work with her.

Over the years, Maria, a couple of her students and I established the Partitura Association. The goals of the Association are to find unconventional concert halls to put the musician-listener interaction at a new level, as well as collaborate with other musicians and performers and unite the world through and with the help of music. We are carrying out a social program through which we have organized concerts even in prisons. Maria shares the stage with us, and this has a deep meaning since it consolidates the musicians of different generations. We hold workshops during which we try to find musical solutions together.

Hayern Aysor: You have given solo concerts in 27 countries and have performed as a soloist with world famous orchestras such as the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gulbenkian Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liege, the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Valona. You have won awards at the Aram Khachaturian, Pulenk, V. da Motta and Paderevsky Competitions and have been awarded the Presidential Award of the Republic of Armenia. Is there any performance that you have been particularly impressed with and that you distinguish from the rest?

Lilit Grigoryan: My performance with Maria Joao Pires in the hall of the Mozarteum Foundation of Salzburg this year was impressive. We started and ended the concert with Mozart’s sonata composed for four hands. We were the first performers of the short Sonata in Do Major in the history of Mozarteum. We performed the sonata on a historic piano.

I attach importance to my participation in the Verbier Festival where I received a piano award. A couple of years later, I was invited to coordinate the piano class through the same festival. It was interesting to see how music is organized and be a part of the Academy.

Hayern Aysor: You tour a lot and visit Armenia on a regular basis. What makes you happy or concerned about the musical life in Armenia? How do you feel when you perform in front of an audience in Armenia?

Lilit Grigoryan: I get nervous every time. Performing in Armenia is probably the most difficult because it is a great responsibility. What makes me happy is that there are packed halls, that there are various festivals and many individuals who provide platforms for classical music and that Diaspora Armenian musicians have the chance to perform in Armenia. I have participated in the “Return” Festival at the invitation of Mariam Shahinyan, the Aram Khachaturian International Music Festival and the Armenia International Music Festival at the invitation of Sergey Smbatyan.

I regret to see that we lack good instruments at our concert halls. I hope solutions are found and Armenian pianists have the opportunity to perform on good pianos.

Hayern Aysor: There are two musicians in your family. How do professional ties have an impact on mother-daughter relations?

Lilit Grigoryan: My mother is always by my side, but she has never tried to make decisions for me. I want and have chosen to be on stage. I am also thankful to her for providing me with professional knowledge since it is thanks to her that I have theoretical knowledge. I know my parents are happy for all that I have achieved and take pride in me.

Hayern Aysor: You are young, but you have already performed at the world’s top concert halls, including the Berlin Concert Hall, the Elb Philharmonic and Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, the Essen Philharmonic and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. All this requires a tremendous amount of effort, willpower and diligence. What is the next step for Lilit Grigoryan the pianist? What are your plans for the near future?

Lilit Grigoryan: I have three albums, including a solo album and two chamber music albums. I am preparing to record my second solo album in the winter. As for my upcoming plans, I would set aside my solo concert at Elb Philharmonic in March, my concert in Rostock in the summer and the performance of Brahms’ First Concerto during the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival.

Hayern Aysor: Do you have any free time for your personal life? How do you manage your free time? What are three factors that make you feel happy?

Lilit Grigoryan: Of course, I don’t have a lot of free time. Every time my parents call me on the phone, I am at an airport. I try to maintain balance and rest. I am very interactive, in spite of the widespread opinion that pianists are usually self-presumed.

My family is in my heart. Whenever I can, I spend evenings with my friends with a cup of wine and read a good book when I am on the road.

P.S.: The Madrid-Rostock phone conversation ends, my room is filled with a special warmth…it is like the warmth in Armenia.

Interview by Aghavni Grigoryan

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