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Tigran Hamasyan: A Pianist's Mellow Ode To 'Mother'

Tigran Hamasyan lets the melody sing a song of yearning and hope in "Mother, Where Are You?"
Christian Ducasse
Tigran Hamasyan lets the melody sing a song of yearning and hope in "Mother, Where Are You?"

With a firm yet delicate touch, 24-year-old jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan plays what he says is "simply one of the most beautiful melodies I have ever heard." He's referring to "Mother, Where Are You?" — an Armenian folk song which addresses many mothers, from the mother of Jesus to Mother Nature to the Armenian Mother Goddess Anahit. The song, featured on Hamasyan's new album A Fable, is part of the pianist's heritage. He was born in Armenia, his family came to the U.S. when he was 16, and he's been picking up jazz prizes and building a reputation ever since.

Choirs and opera singers have given voice to the hymn, soaring to the heavens in their renditions. But in his wordless version, Hamasyan shows restraint not always present in a musician so young. He wisely lets the melody sing its song of yearning and hope and praise, adding just an occasional tremolo or grace note, bringing a bit of quickness to the pace, then slowing on down. In his mellow hands, that beautiful melody embraces the listener like a mother's arms.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.