Drawing upon Armenian ancient traditions, Shoghaken renders lullabies, folk dances and love songs from Armenia’s various regions. The Ensemble made their debut U.S. appearance in 2002, on an invitation by cellist Yo-Yo Ma when they performed at an elaborate festival featuring music of the Silk Road, hosted by the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. At the same time, the ensemble released their debut CD, Armenia Anthology, which received the AFIM award. And the ensemble’s music was featured on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan’s film, Ararat.
The Shoghaken Ensemble’s 2004 tour coincided with the release of two CDs, Traditional Dances of Armenia and Shoghaken vocalist Hasmik Harutyunyan’s Armenian Lullabies. Both CDs chronicle the ancient history and more recent events associated with Armenia. Informative liner notes and archival photographs embellish the recordings. Equally important is the lush music performed on the recordings that features the kamanche (spike fiddle), ud (lute), duduk (double reed pipe), zurna (double reed obo), kanon (zither), dhol (drum), a shepherd’s flute and other traditional instruments. The music draws comparisons and influences from neighboring countries Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran and the Middle East in general.
The Shoghaken Ensemble features performances by renowned vocalist sister and brother, Hasmik and Aleksan Harutyunyan as well as, some of the finest Armenian instrumental talent, including the ensemble founder and duduk virtuoso, Gevorg Gourgeni Dabaghyan. Other members include, Tigran Ambaryan (kamancha), Artur Arakelyan (ud), Karine Hovhannisyan (kanon), Kamo Khachaturian (dhol, percussion), Grigor Takushian (second duduk, dham) and Levon Tevanyan (shepherd’s flute). Apart from the ensemble the musicians have released numerous solo recordings between them and have made several noted radio and movie soundtrack appearances.