Coline Alecian, violin
Jennifer Pio, violin
Ondine Stasyk, viola
Cyril Simon, cello
Akhtamar, an Armenian legend. The name of the quartet is a reference to the Armenian Miniatures by Komitas/Aslamazyan, which the ensemble has performed with passion since its foundation. Formed in Brussels in 2014, the ensemble was one of the six quartets selected for the “tremplins jeunes quatuors” of Paris’ Philharmonie in 2016 and in the same year won the second prize in the Musiq’3 festival.
In 2021 the quartet was awarded the third prize of the International Johannes Brahms Competition.
The Akhtamar Quartet performs in prestigious concert halls and festivals all around Europe: Radio France Festival in Montpellier, the Concertgebouw in Bruges (Be), the MonteLeón Festival (Sp), as well as venues in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Baltic States… and of course in Armenia.
In 2020, the quartet released its first CD: légende arménienne. The label Cypres Records produced the recording of Komitas’ miniatures and “un quatuor arménien” by Eugenie Alecian, dedicated to the Akhtamar Quartet. Regularly broadcast on national radios (Musiq’3, France Musique, SWR2 in Germany…), légende arménienne has been rewarded with four stars by the prestigious BBC Music Magazine and Classica Magazine, four diapason, a silver medal from the Global Music Awards and is one of the five nominees in the classical music category of the Octaves de la Musique 2021.
The Akhtamar Quartet is very keen on working with contemporary composers. Several composers such as Roger Boutry, Eugénie Alécian, Jan Kuijken and Judith Adler de Oliveira have asked the musicians to create and record their works.
The quartet attaches great importance to bringing classical music everywhere and to everyone. They have several sets which they perform in establishments like schools, hospitals, homes and psychiatric institutes. This activity has also won recognition since The Dream Makers, a show for young audiences, is a finalist in the YAM awards 2021 (Young Audiences Music). From this impulse were born several solidarity projects that received important support: Music 4 Armenia, a tour of twenty free concerts in Armenia after the war in the fall of 2020; Harmonies of Dreams, a series of concerts and shows for patients in psychiatric hospitals in Belgium, organized in collaboration with the health care professionals and Music 4 Lebanon in September 2022.
The ensemble is part of ProQuartet before joining the ECMA. It also has the privilege of attending courses at the Joseph Haydn Institut at the University of Music in Vienna.
The Akhtamar Quartet is supported by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Wallonie Bruxelles International, the Concertgebouw Bruges, Le Dimore del Quartetto, the Boghossian Foundation, and the Centre National de Musique.
Coline Alecian plays a violin by François Varcin, 2007
Jennifer Pio plays a Milanese violin by Celestino Farotto, 1920
Ondine Stasyk plays a 19th century French viola
Cyril Simon plays a cello by François Vial, 1924
THE AKHTAMAR QUARTET RECORDINGS
“The opportunity to travel has allowed us to discover the sould of a country through its simultaneously joyful and nostalgic music”
The Komitas Miniatures manage to condense all aspects of Armenian musical culture into a few short minutes. Serguey Aslamazyan’s arrangements of the work for string quartet enhance their inherent emotional intensity. We sense a nobility in the quartet arrangements, which is not present in the original. However, Aslamazyan’s subtle additions do not distort the Miniatures’ real messange of peace and hope. Similarly, these themes lie at the heart of Eugenie Alécian’s “Un Quatuor arménien”. This powerful work expresses the energy of a country that never stops singing and dancing, no matter how much it suffers.
The album has received four stars from both the prestigious BBC Music magazine and Classica magazine as well as four “diapasons” from the well-known Diapason magazine.
Music to heal a grievously wounded and bereaved population? This is the quest of the musicians of Akhtamar Quartet.
This solidarity tour, which took place in June 2021, allowed hundreds of people to meet and hope again around French and Armenian melodies.
Since the 27th September 2020, Armenia yet again finds itself staring catastrophe in the face. Despite the ceasefire of the 9th November, the situation in the country remains extremely worrying.
The visible marks of Armenia’s suffering will in time fade but the spiritual scars constitute a near-permanent additional disfigurement. In June 2021, the Akhtamar Quartet flew to Armenia for a solidarity tour of two weeks, to fill hospitals, schools and rural areas with music. Many Armenians, sensitive and appreciative of classical music, have had little or no access to any for far too long.
In order to introduce as many people as possible to the works of French composer Claude Debussy, French-Armenian composer Eugénie Alécian, Armenian music by Komitas/Aslamazyan among others, the Akhtamar quartet gave 20 free concerts.
The quartet presented a special show “The Dream Makers” for more than 200 children. A musical journey without words, which highlights the poetic and unifying power of music, the true universal language.
Human beings are receptive to music throughout their lives. Both a universal language and a source of well-being, music is used increasingly in the medical world. Its benefits are most renowned in psychiatric care and the monitoring of patients, as it has a clear impact on motor functions and memory. Convinced by these potential benefits, the Akhtamar quartet formed a mission to make their music sound in hospitals and medical institutions. Through their live performances, they would share the qualities of journeys and dreams with those patients who no longer have the opportunity or ability to experience them.
The performances, written according to the ages of different audiences (children, adolescents or adults) have been created in direct liaison with healthcare professionals. They are dedicated to patients with mental health disabilities and/or handicaps, whether or not they are permanent residents. Over a period of four days, the Akhtamar Quartet gives ten performances to small groups of patients, during which they prioritize interaction and moments to share.
The project has already taken place in the Liège region for more than 200 patients and will continue to develop all over Belgium. In the long-term, the aim of the project is to create more and more communication between healthcare centers and professional musicians, so that artistic performances are as pertinent and useful as possible.
Da diversi anni il Libano sta affrontando una situazione economica senza precedenti che ha spinto milioni di persone nella povertà. Questa crisi finanziaria, definita dalla Banca Mondiale come una delle peggiori a livello globale dal 1850, si è ulteriormente aggravata a causa dell’esplosione del porto di Beirut nell’agosto 2020 e della pandemia. L’inflazione esorbitante, la riduzione della capacità di spesa e l’aumento della disoccupazione hanno privato il popolo libanese della sua autonomia; l’uscita da questa spirale negativa non è chiara. Inevitabilmente, l’attuale situazione produce il peggior tipo di angoscia spirituale. Quando sia l’azione che le parole cessano di funzionare, rimane la solidarietà tra le persone.
Il tour “Music 4 Lebanon”, organizzato in loco dalla “Hammana Artist House”, ha offerto una ventina di concerti gratuiti in tutto il Libano, ai quali hanno partecipato centinaia di persone. I concerti si sono svolti nei luoghi più vulnerabili, come ospedali, scuole, case di cura e campi profughi.
Coline, Jennifer, Ondine and Cyril
Created in 2014, “Akhtamar”, an Armenian legend, in reference to the Armenian miniatures of Komitas/Aslamazyan, which the quartet has been performing since its beginnings, is a project with a strong sound and aesthetic identity.
Mastery, virtuosity, sensitivity, expressiveness are at the center of the programming of works from the classical repertoire, pieces by contemporary composers, woven with their Armenian signature.
The ensemble performs regularly in Belgium and across Europe, invited to festivals such as Radio France in Montpellier, MonteLeón in Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Armenia and the Baltic countries. The third prize of the Johannes Brahms International Competition is awarded to the quartet at the 2021 edition.
Strongly committed to social projects, they create shows to introduce classical music everywhere and to everyone. Many original projects such as “Harmonies de Rêves”, “Freetyle Classics”, “Music 4 Armenia” or “Music 4 Lebanon” have been born over the years.