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Darakjian Says His Music Has Roots in Armenia but Flies Like an Eagle

Times Staff Writer

Albert Darakjian was not born in Armenia, nor has he visited there. But when you hear his music, the composer said this week, “you know that it has its roots in the Armenian spirit.”

Much of Darakjian’s music finds its inspiration in the folk melodies of his ancestral homeland. A recent example, titled “Flight of the Eagle,” will receive its premiere Saturday in a performance by the Garden Grove Symphony.

“Flight of the Eagle” is dedicated by the composer to victims of the earthquake that devastated the Soviet republic last Dec. 7.

Darakjian, whose parents came to the United States from Armenia, said the composition was inspired in part by the symbol used by the Armenian General Benevolence Union, which combines the peaks of Mt. Ararat--the holy mountain in Turkish Armenia that figures prominently in the Armenian consciousness--and the American eagle, which Darakjian said represents “the spirit, the will and the love for freedom of the Armenian people in America.”

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“Flight of the Eagle” is a 6-minute symphonic work that Darakjian described as “very infectious and compelling.” The melody, he said, “came to me very quickly, in the matter of a few minutes.”

The composer said he would like to see “Flight of the Eagle” used as a theme for Armenian earthquake-relief efforts. “I would hope that this is going to be accepted on a worldwide basis,” he said. “This music is dedicated to the Armenian spirit.”

Composing is still a relatively new avocation for Darakjian, who retired from a teaching career about 12 years and turned his attention to music, which was his minor in college. A Philadelphia native, Darakjian moved to Southern California in 1948 and now lives in Encino, although he is in the midst of a move to Westlake Village.

His “Armenian Symphonic Dances” was performed last June by the Garden Grove Symphony, and another of his works has been performed by the Sierra Philharmonic Orchestra in Grass Valley. He has composed five symphonic suites and several choral works and hymns.

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Darakjian composes both sacred and secular music, but he credits divine guidance for all of it. “This music,” he says, “comes by way of the holy spirit. . . . God is to be glorified by the music.”

Albert Darakjian’s “Flight of the Eagle” will be performed by the Garden Grove Symphony in a concert Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Don Wash Auditorium, 11271 Stanford Ave. in Garden Grove. The program also includes pops selections featuring pianist Richard Carpenter and vocalist Scott Grimes. Tickets are $10 and $15, with a discount price of $7 for students and seniors. Call (714) 534-1103 for information.


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