One ‘Small Step’ for Young Musicians in Yerevan

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Armenian Mirror Spectator

YEREVAN, JUNE 15, 2023 — The name of the competition may be “Small Step,” but the voices of the singers were big and beautiful. This year the event, which has previously brought together participants from Armenia and Artsakh, is to be international, with contestants invited from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Georgia and the Russian Federation. The music festival is taking place from June 1 to 20 in the large concert hall of the Makar Yekmalyan Music school No. 1 in Vagharshapat. The aim of the competition is to identify talented children and youngsters, and help them on their way to the stage.
Lusine Arakelyan, an opera singer and music teacher who has been studying in Germany, reported on the achievement of Mikayel Arabyan, who is one of her students at the Aleksey Hekimyan Music school in Yerevan. The 12-year-old is in fifth grade and will graduate in two years. He has already impressed international juries and won several awards in prestigious contests in Italy, Vienna, Bulgaria, and the United States (“American Edition” International online Contest, June 10, 2021, First Prize).

Lusine Arakelyan with Mikayel Arabyan

Lusine Arakelyan with Mikayel Arabyan (Facebook photo)

This year in Vagharshapat, each participant was asked to present two songs, one by an Armenian composer. The other youngsters in his age group sang an Armenian song and a Neapolitan or Russian piece.
Mikayel sang Schubert’s Ave Maria and Artemi Ayvazyan’s Caravan, and listeners received his performance with enthusiasm. Some expressed disappointment that he received second prize. While youngsters his age are generally expected to choose children’s songs, he selected a masterpiece of the German art song tradition. Schubert’s beloved composition presents challenging voice problems for the performer and is particularly difficult for such a young singer to achieve the skill level to sing long, beautiful phrases in one breath, with nuances in dynamics and pure intonation.
The talented young Mikayel has reportedly not yet made up his mind, whether he will pursue a career on the stage, but at the age of 12, there is no need to rush. Teacher Arakelyan is justly proud of her student.