Bayrakdarian’s Armenian hymns moved film’s composer to call

The Gazette, Montreal, Saturday, March 29, 2003
Bill Rankin, Canwest News Service

Edmonton – Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian has held crowds spellbound in music halls all over the world, but she’s never had an audience as big as the one that has bee hearing her sing in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

On the phone from Toronto, Bayrakdarian gleefully reminds the caller that The Two Towers went on to win a Grammy.

Bayrakdarian says she got The Two Towers call after Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore heard some of her otherworldly Armenian hymns on her first CD, Joyous Light.

“The composer heard it and said, ‘This is the voice I’ve been looking for,’” she says.

Both Evenstar – the song she sings on The Two Towers’ soundtrack – and her album’s Armenian liturgical music reveal a singer who clearly loves the sound of the pure human voice.

Her repertoire includes opera – she’s off to Brussels to sing Elisa in Mozart’s Il Re Pastore – but it also features Rachmaninoff’s Vocalese and Villa Lobo’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, both songs without words.

Bayrakdarian says she’s after something very personal in her music.

“What I’m most interested in is beautiful singing, not bel canto repertoire, which is Bellini, Dnizetti, Rossini.

“I’m interested in something that speaks to me. That’s my main guideline to everything that I sing, whether it’s opera, recital or concert.”

But what grounds Bayrakdarian’s life are her Armernian heritage and Christian tradition. Christos Hatzis’s Light From the Cross, dedicated to Bayrakdarian and premiered Wednesday at a concert in Edmonton, is an orchestral treatment of Armenian hymns.

The religious significance is at the foreground for the soprano, who began her singing life in her Armenian church.

Edmonton Journal