Features | 11.12.12 | 15:14
Fabulous Flora: Nation bids farewell to its beloved artist
Martirosyan, who moved to the United States together with her husband in 1991, but shuttled between the two continents to remain attached to her homeland Armenia, died in Burbank, LA, California, on November 20, aged 55.
With consent of the family, the body of Martirosyan, the People’s Artist of Armenia, was transferred to Yerevan Monday and laid to rest at the City Pantheon in the Armenian capital today, December 11. People of all walks of life – from state officials and dignitaries to scholars and ordinary fans of her art – turned out to attend the funeral organized by an Armenian government commission.
Before that, many came to bid farewell to Martirosyan at St. Ghevond Church in Los Angeles last Thursday.
Martirosyan, a native of Gyumri, which is held as Armenia’s cultural capital, was the youngest in the family of four children. Having inherited vocal skills from her mother, the young singer took part in the Garoun 1973 song contest to win the first place among 800 participants. In 1978, she went to win her first international prize at a festival in Hamburg, Germany.
Gusan Ashot’s famous Tsovastghik song performed by Martirosyan has for 15 years stayed on top of the Armenian music charts to become the singer’s brand song.
As a soloist at a state folk orchestra Martirosyan visited more than 70 countries and also unfolded activities in Armenia where from 1997 to 2001 she headed a music school in Yerevan. In 2002, Martirosyan established an International Music Academy named after Komitas in the United States and in 2006 initiated A Pan-Armenian Song Contest Festival.
In 2008, the singer, jointly with Michael Stone (a brother of Sharon Stone), set up an international organization, Artists for Peace, to raise awareness of crimes against humanity and the 2011 “Never Again” concert featuring several famous artists was part of the organization’s efforts.
Reflecting on the path of the singer, one of her music teachers Arzas Voskanyan says that she would not stop at her achievements, while always trying to reach new heights.
“Flora was already a recognized artist with beautiful, lyrical songs, but she also took up medieval music and we also reached Komitas. Flora overcame [performance difficulties related to] all these songs to achieve a result, making gorgeous performances of Komitas,” remembers the composer and singer.
“Her voice seemed to have been meant for performing Komitas, Yekmalyan,” he adds.
Voskanyan and Martirosyan met in 1976 when the commencing singer was still a student at the choir conducting department of the Romanos Melikian Music College in Yerevan.
Voskanyan remembers the day when “a pretty, pale-skinned, plump girl talking with humor typical of Gyumri natives” appeared in his classroom. “We got acquainted, chatted for a bit, but Flora liked singing, more than choir-conducting,” says Voskanyan.
Shortly Martirosyan became a soloist of the Folk Instruments Orchestra led by Voskanyan.
“She was the heart of the orchestra, a pillar supporting its roof. She made friends with everyone and always cheered people up in difficult situations,” remembers Voskanyan.
In 2005, Armenian pop singer Kristine Pepelyan sang in a duet along with Martirosyan, performing one of the most popular Armenian lyrical songs, “Let My Love Remain Secret”.
“Flora was very hospitable. She liked having guests in the yard of her house in the States. When she prepared something delicious, she rang her friends up for a dinner,” remembers Pepelyan.
Martirosyan had many fans in and outside Armenia who tried not to miss her concerts. One of them, Bella Kurghinyan, says that the singer was always immediate during her concerts, she talked to the audience and always wanted people to accompany her in singing – the audience responded gladly.
“Unlike many other singers who quickly disappear from stage, she patiently stayed and talked to everyone, allowed everyone who wanted to take pictures with her. She is a symbol of femininity and morality for me,” says the fan.