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.”

Lara