I am a frequent user of the online music app, Spotify, which has allowed me the ability to experience a broad range of musical artists and genres. As a matter of fact, I have discovered more artists using this app than any other online musical source. Recently, as I was searching for some specific Armenian compositions, I came upon an artist and her recordings that I have since enjoyed listening to several times and would like to share with you.
The Crane is a collection of Armenian folks songs which are beautifully arranged by musician Nina Stern. Stern is a classically trained recorder and clarinetist residing in New York and her work has predominantly been classical music and specifically Early music.
Stern started performing on the recorder like one might think, in elementary school along with other children and immediately fell in love with the instrument. She even took the recorder to her piano lessons so that she could play alongside the piano. Finally her piano teacher told her parents that she should focus on the recorder as it was clear of her passion for this instrument. The passion grew and as she got older she decided that she wanted to have a career in playing music. She even received a degree in performing Early/Medieval music.
Classically trained in Western music, eventually this love of Early music opened the door for Stern to become interested in other forms of roots music or world music. Doing so, she was able to learn about other places from around the globe. Her research eventually led her to find Armenian and Middle Eastern music.
“I fell in love with the music. It has aspects that I have played, many similarities. There is a simplicity to it that at the same time is complex. I am blown away by the melodies created in Armenian music with so few notes” said Stern.
The Crane has many wonderful Armenian folk songs. The introductory track, Aparani Bar is masterly done by kanunist Tamer Pinarbasi performing a picture-perfect taksim with the ensembles rhythmic backing. Master Armenian oudist, Ara Dinkjian is featured on this album and you can hear his smooth and thoughtful performance throughout the album. His lead into Bardezum is superb along with his rendition of Groong (The Crane) the title song for this album.
Many of Stern’s song selections definitely have an undertone of influence by Ara’s father, singer Onnik Dinkjian, even though this is an instrumental recording. True collaboration occurred between Stern and Dinkjian on choosing songs that ultimately led to this album.
“Nina comes from a western classical world, and although I graduated from a western classical conservatory, that is certainly not my forte. I always want to expand my musical experience and knowledge, so I welcome the opportunity to work with artists such as Nina Stern, who is a world-renown recorder player and educator” said Dinkjian.
Both musicians share a mutual admiration and respect for each other’s talents and abilities. “Ara is one of the most generous musicians I have ever worked with. He is happy to share the knowledge and music.” said Stern.
The Crane is not the only time she has recorded Armenian music. ” I fell in love with Armenian music ten years ago. Since then I have recorded two or three Armenian songs and dances on my albums” written by Stern on the back credits of The Crane CD.
The Crane features Nina on recorders and chalumeau (a single-reed folk woodwind instrument of the late baroque and early classical era), Ara Dinkjian on oud, Tamer Pinarbasi on kanun, Shane Shanahan on percussion, and Hans Bilger on bass.
The Crane is a great recording and I encourage you to listen to it. Nina, knowing the positive response she received, is potentially interested in working on another volume of Armenian music. I am looking forward to that release.
- The Crane can be heard on Spotify as well as iTunes and Good Child Music.
- As a way to give back to the community and to share her knowledge of music, Stern formed S’Cool Sounds close to twenty years ago. This nonprofit organization allows the sharing of music-making to children throughout New York City. This is still a big part of her life and she loves the ability to share music in either the USA or overseas.
- Learn more about Nina Stern on her website.
The above video features Nina Stern and Ara Dinkjian performing together in 2013.