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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

Shoghaken Ensemble

Shoghaken Ensemble (Traditional Crossroads)

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Under-recognized in most historical accounts, Armenia was a portal between East and West for much of its history and developed a rich culture of its own. The Shoghaken Ensemble is among the best contemporary Armenian folk groups, encompassing a full spectrum of the country’s sonic heritage. Included are the unearthly piping of the duduk, a wooden flute producing the most lonesome sounds in the universe; bewitchingly powerful songs for voice; and the percussive, rhythmic music of weddings and other festivals. Some of the numbers will sound familiar enough to fans of Near Eastern music, but other melodies, especially those associated with the duduk, are probably more ancient in origin than even the Byzantine and Islamic empires that once surrounded Armenia.

Shoghaken Ensemble performs at 8 p.m., Feb. 20, in the Great Hall of the University of Wisconsin- Madison’s Memorial Union.