Mychael Danna

Ararat [Original Motion Picture Score]

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For Ararat, his most personal and ambitious film, Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) turned to fellow Canadian Mychael Danna, with whom he has collaborated since 1987's Family Viewing (Ararat is their ninth film together). The complex storyline weaves together the genocide of Armenians by Turkey's Ottoman Empire during World War I -- portrayed through the making of a more conventional historical epic film (also called Ararat) -- with a group of mostly Armenian characters in contemporary Toronto, many involved with the making of the film. They are all, to some degree or another, haunted by the genocide -- including the Turkish government's refusal to acknowledge that it ever happened (hence the controversy with which the film has been greeted in some quarters). In the liner notes, Danna notes that the soundtrack is, fittingly enough, "largely based on Armenian folk, church, and court melodies, played and sung by native musicians." It was recorded on location in Armenia (at Etchmiadzin's ancient Church of Saint Gayane) and in Toronto and London. The instrumentation ranges from the conventional for the orchestral pieces to the indigenous -- duduk, zurna, shvi, tar, kamancha, kanon, and dhol -- for the more exotic ones. The Canadian Opera Company's celebrated soprano, Isabel Bayrakdarian, is featured on the stunning "Oor Es Mayr Eem" (in 2002, Bayrakdarian also released Joyous Light, a CD of Armenian liturgical music on CBC Records).

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