Looking ahead to Lara and the Lyre on December 1st, we’ve invited violinist Lara St. John to write about her thoughts on the program:
“Two of the pieces have a bit of a story; namely Sari Siroon Yar (which I asked Serouj to set for violin and piano) and the Bach E Major Sonata for Violin and Harp (sichord)
Sari Siroun Yar
As a 17-year-old rather adventurous teen, I decided to leave the Conservatory residence in Moscow in the then Soviet Union where I was living for a year, and take a bit of a drive – to Armenia (in a Lada). It took some planning – the most important was that I leave all my Canadian papers in Moscow, and just say I was Estonian when asked (it explained the height and blondness which in themselves could be Russian, but also the slight accent).
We went through a lot of controls, but since my friend was Armenian with an Armenian license plate, and our other friend was Russian, no one paid much attention to us – they just thought he was going home with some friends.
We went through the Caucasus mountains at night – where my Armenian friend would have a scimitar at the ready every tunnel – he said that there were a lot of bandits around. We never saw any, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t joking. Our Lada stalled at one point and as they fixed it, I had an unforgettable time looking at more stars than I had ever seen, and down at the Aragvi river far below.
Finally we sort of made it down to Georgia (not the Devil’s one), even though they were nearly having a civil war at the time, and got our car fixed, while I walked around Tbilisi. We crossed into Armenia finally, and went through some earthquake-affected towns, like Leninakan – and that was something else, for me to see firsthand the devastation that we had only heard tell of in Moscow.
One evening in Yerevan we were out at a restaurant, and I heard a guy sing and play Sari Siroun Yar – he accompanied himself on the oud. I immediately asked what the song was. A few nights later I heard the tune again where a guy sang the tune a cappella through his cupped hands, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard.
So, I’ve never forgotten Sari Siroon Yar.”
Sari Siroon Yar (English Translation):
with a thousand charms, you come with the wind;
with bunches of flowers, you are a mountaineer;
on my black horse, I’ve come to your village;
seeing your door shut, I was left in a daze;
Pretty girl from the mountain,
Bring me mountain cloves,
Oh my, what cloves,
Bring a flame of love!
when a glimpse of you. lifts one up to the sky ;
you’d think the low-hanging stars, have just been lit;
the wind and the birds, they take on your voice,
oh when will I, take your tender love.
Listen to Serouj’s favourite, and very old, recording of Sari Siroon Yar by Loosig Kochian: