Sonata #1 for Violin and Piano
(2016)
by Ron Hannah

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Duration: about 14"

     Sometimes things happen in unlikely ways. You meet someone online, perhaps, and after a time an invitation to visit follows. The person we happened to meet is Noune Shamakhian, daughter of the famous violinist, teacher and scholar, Anahit Tsitsikian. These are of course Armenian names, and the invitation was to visit Yerevan, Armenia, and for Andrea to work with the

    
children at a music school there. This we did. I wrote some arrangements of folksongs, and Andrea choreographed them for the children at the Anahit Tsitsikian Music School. We fell in love with the country, of course, its rugged beauty and its amazingly talented and beautiful people charmed us completely. We saw wonderful dance and orchestral performances, we were knocked over completely by the view of Mount Ararat from our hotel window, we savoured the food and the hospitality (and the brandy), and we were shocked by how poor the country is and how its infrastructure is crumbling in these post-Soviet days.

     As well, we were deeply struck by the tragedy of the Genocide that happened during World War I, a crime that is yet even to be acknowledged by the descendants of its perpetrators, though pressure is growing for them to do so. The Armenian people are still traumatized and deeply saddened by the events of 1915, and we came away shocked and saddened also, the more so by the fact that we had known practically nothing about it. Our own education system has failed us completely when it comes to certain aspects of history.

     The connection with Armenia has been growing since that meeting. Andrea and I have recently completed a theatre piece with major roles for children, based on the life of St. Gregory, The Illuminator, who legend has it converted the emperor and the country to Christianity in the year 301. This country grips one's attention and brings forth very unexpected things!

     The latest unexpected thing was Noune's request for me to write a violin sonata. It is always lovely to be asked to do such a thing (I'm calling it a commission), and I have dedicated it to the memory of her mother. Sadly, I never met Anahit, but if you click on this YouTube link, and read a little of the history of Armenia, both ancient and modern, you may come to an appreciation of what a deeply personal proposal this was. I hope only that I have done her memory justice with what I have written, and I regret that at the moment the listening files at the top of this page are mere computer-generated things, not overly convincing and the balance is often not very good, but at least the notes are there if you care to try them out. Hopefully sometime soon I can replace them with a real performance by actual human players. Oh, and Noune has suggested I write a violin concerto as well - a much more intimidating idea, especially considering the spectacular concerto by Khatchaturian against which I cannot help but compare myself. I'm living with the thought however, and perhaps one day it will come to be.

     The score is available by clicking in the box above, and I will be happy to send you the violin part, free of charge, with only the proviso that you inform me (below) of any performances so that I can keep this website up-to-date. Soon it will also be available through the Canadian Music Centre.


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