Sacred Music in Yerevan at the End of the Soviet Union

Speaker: Dr. Oksana Nesterenko, Jordan Center, New York University

Date & Time: July 13, 2022 at 6:00-7:30pm Yerevan (10:00-11:30am EDT)

Register in advance for this meeting. Registration required:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Language: English

From the 1960s, Soviet citizens became interested in religion and spirituality, which attracted them in part because of disillusionment in the communist ideology, and in part as a result of unofficial interactions with the West. These explorations became the basis for literary, artistic, film and musical works addressing sacred topics, all of which were subject to censorship. This presentation focuses on the distinct spiritual and music climate in Yerevan, where strong connection between religion and culture was not completely relinquished by the Soviet state. It will examine case studies of Armenian composers, who quoted ancient sacred chant and texts from the Bible in their works and were nevertheless able to arrange their performances and recordings.

The speaker, Dr. Oksana Nesterenko is a music historian with research focus on the late Soviet Union, religion, spirituality and secularity. She received a PhD in Music History and Theory at Stony Brook University in 2021. Her current book project investigates the impact of state censorship on religious themes in concert music, composed during the Brezhnev era and perestroika in five Soviet cities: Moscow, Leningrad, Kyiv, Tallinn, and Yerevan. Oksana has published in the Perspectives of New Music, the Yale Journal of Music and Religion, Musicology Now and The Jordan Center Blog. She is a visiting scholar at New York University Jordan Center.

Dr. Nesterenko is also an ARISC Fellow who had been awarded the ARISC Junior Research Fellowship, which is supported with a grant from the US Department of Education. This event is sponsored by the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). The lectures are free and open to the public. Learn more at

 *ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran.