Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Composer's Children

Deanna with her father, Ara Sevanian
When Composer Ara Sevanian offered information on his life as a composer, he mentioned little about his family. Perhaps his musicianship, having taken center stage, prevented his elaborating on other aspects of his life. The following paragraphs taken from his memoir, Kanon, present Ara’s son Alex. Sadly, Alex preceded his father in death.  Ara’s daughter Deanna, remains a faithful friend and follower of these notes on her father’s life. 

Los Angeles

 A growing circle of friends asks, “When will the book be finished?”  They follow his history.  I pursue his composing credits.   The University of California at Los Angeles takes interest in both.  I make arrangements to transfer two of Ara’s scrapbooks containing photos, letters, press releases, programs, and critic’s reviews to its Schoenberg Music Library archive.  Ara is grateful that his volumes will be preserved for future generations.  His close friend, Tessie Chuachiao, arranges the setting—a November 2001 concert.  I prepare a press release and enlist UCLA archivist Steven Davison for the donation.
I seek approval from Ara’s son, Alex, on the decision to reveal family photos and history.  “Ara, will you introduce us?” In fifteen years of friendship, Ara has never presented either of his children to me.  Ara agrees, planning a meeting over lunch since his son lives nearby.

Alex, a USC professor, speaks eruditely and with distant courtesy about the treasure of Armenian musical motifs and his father’s work to preserve them.  Tall and darkly handsome, his quiet demeanor and long-sleeved shirt and tie usher in a formal introduction.  When I voice my intention to make Ara’s music the primary thrust of the memoir, Alex’s reserve melts.  He breaks into occasional smiles under his moustache. As the conversation warms I fix my attention on his words, listening for unspoken concerns. I wonder if he worries about family confidentiality.  Memoir writing can have legal repercussions.  I ask myself, Do I create a romance, or stay true to Ara’s interviews? I assure Alex that I will deliver a faithful account of his father’s life.

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