A note from Kate

As you read this e-news on June 1, I am arriving in Vienna to spend the weekend resting and exploring. I will catch a train on Monday to Berlin to enjoy a week with my son’s family and cousins.

On Tuesday evening June 13, I will fly from Berlin through Athens to Yerevan where all flights arrive around 3:30 or 4 AM in the morning!

Satik and the guitar ensemble will be arriving from California also at that time at Yerevan Zvartnots Airport, so together we’ll get to our hotel. Here’s a link to the itinerary for Armenia.

Our concerts for UN refugees and the general public take place through June 25. This is a volunteer mission trip. If you would like to contribute to defray expenses, you may do so here and we are so grateful!

I return home June 28.

If you’d like to follow us, please visit Pan Harmonia’s Facebook page, where I will be posting along the journey – hopefully LIVE!

Thank you for all the good wishes you send our way!


Kate Flute

Asheville to Armenia! A Musical Adventure in Support of UN World Refugee Day

by Bill Kopp, blog.musoscribe.com

Kate Steinbeck (née Haemmel) and Satik Andriassian first met as students at Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory near Cleveland, Ohio. Satik is an Armenian born in Iran and moved to the United States in 1976. A gifted musician, her primary instrument was (and remains) classical guitar.

Kate was already an accomplished flutist. The two became good friends during those college years. In the decades following their time at the conservatory, both women would be consumed with family and career: Kate eventually moved to Asheville and founded Pan Harmonia, and today Satik is a professor and the director of the Classical Guitar Ensemble at Cal State University in Los Angeles.

“We lost contact for years,” Kate says, “but we remained in each other’s awareness.” Happily, in 2012, they re-established contact and connected when they could. “The last time we saw each other was just before the shutdown in March 2020,” Kate recalls. The two would often share stories about their musical pursuits. Kate vividly remembers Satik telling her about a trip with her guitar ensemble. “In 2018, they toured Rome, Sicily and Malta; that’s pretty ambitious!”

Travel was largely out of the question during the lockdowns of 2020-22, but once things began to open back up, Satik approached her students with the idea of another ambitious concert tour and asked them if they would like to put together a tour of Italy. She also floated another possibility: the country of her heritage, Armenia. The students immediately, enthusiastically and unanimously chose the more challenging and intriguing option; Armenia it would be.

Satik contacted the head of the United Nations Relief Agency in Armenia; the agency would bring the ensemble to various refugee communities around the country. Those communities are temporary homes for Iraqi, Syrian and Ukraine refugees; the ensemble will bring a musical message of hope and togetherness to audiences there. The itinerary for the June tour – in commemoration and observance of UN World Refugee Day, June 20 – will also include two concerts in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia. In addition, there will be a concert in Oshakan, the birthplace of Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet. The ensemble will also have other concerts in Gyumri and Dilijan (known as the “Armenian Switzerland”).

While the group is based in California, the ten-person guitar ensemble is a human display of diversity. Ranging in ages from 25 to 50, the gender-diverse students represent at least nine different cultures; that variety will be empowering and affirming for an audience of refugees in a country where ethnic Armenians make up more than 98% of the population.

In recent years, Satik and Kate have often spoken about the prospect of playing music together. Kate had even suggested a piece, “Facades” by minimalist composer Phillip Glass. “We talked about me coming out and playing with her ensemble,” Kate says, “but it didn’t happen.”

Satik did eventually produce a performance of “Facades.” And as soon as the decision had been made to organize a tour of Armenia, she rang up her dear friend. “I want you to come on tour with us,” she told Kate. “I want you to play ‘Facades’ and some other works, but because of our shoestring budget I can’t compensate you.”

Satik explained her reasons for wanting Kate to participate. “You are one of the most compassionate people I know for [connecting with] humanity and human well-being. I would like you to experience what we will experience with the refugee communities, because I know you will build on that experience.”

A tour of the scale that Satik has planned requires significant funding. So far, she has raised more than half of the required funds for the students’ needs. But as much as Satik wants Kate to join the ensemble for the tour, she isn’t able to cover the flutist’s expenses.

To that end, Kate will play benefits concerts with a goal of raising about $6000 to make possible her participation in the Armenian Adventure. She has raised about 2/3 of the required funds. (The next benefit concert will be “Just Flute” on April 16 in Asheville.)

And as Kate says, the goals of the tour flow in two directions. “The goal is sharing music, of course. The musicians will have an experience in another culture, playing and connecting with the audiences,” she explains. “And the audiences will experience both the music and the diversity of these American musicians.”

The program for the Armenian Adventure concerts will have the Americas – North and South – as its theme. The works of 20th century Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos will be featured. “He wrote a piece for multiple cellos and soprano,” Kate says. Satik is transcribing that work for guitars and flute. Kate hopes to feature a piece for solo flute by American composer Katherine Hoover as well. And of course, the piece that inspired Satik’s invitation to her dear friend, Glass’ “Facades,” will also be part of the program.

Kate says that for her, the Armenia Adventure represents an opportunity “to get wonderfully out of my comfort zone. Touring is always an adventure, but visiting Armenia – witnessing Satik’s culture – will really shake up my consciousness.” And, she admits, the trip offers the rare chance to spend two weeks with her dear friend.

Satik and Kate in Ohio, c. 1983

Adventure Armenia

The back story

Satik Andriassian and I met studying guitar and flute. We bonded through laughter and notes as music students at Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory in Berea, Ohio.

Satik Andriassian + Kate Steinbeck née Haemmel c. 1983

Many moons, marriages and children later, we are still laughing and making music!

Satik directs the Cal State LA guitar ensemble, which is planning a tour of Armenia this June, and has invited me to be the guest artist for a program of American music. With assistance from  the UN Relief Agency, we plan to travel around connecting with people in communities and also participate in World Refugee Day observances.

Satik and her students are busy raising funds to get 10 people and their guitars to Armenia. I am seeking assistance with lodgings and food while there and have planned benefit concerts. Her students and I are excited for the opportunity to travel with a native Armenian speaker! If you’d like to contribute, you may do so here DONATE. If you have questions or thoughts to share, please feel free to write me.

Thank you for your support! Kate along with Satik

Asheville Baroque Concerts’ Gail Ann Schroeder expresses her gratitude

In 2015 I was inspired to create a concert series dedicated solely to early music. After witnessing the vibrant art and music scene of Asheville, I felt that there was space and interest enough to embrace and support my vision. I approached Kate about Pan Harmonia becoming the fiscal sponsor for this undertaking. She enthusiastically agreed, and our partnership was born! Thanks to support from Pan Harmonia and patrons like you, a loyal and enthusiastic community has built up around Asheville Baroque Concerts. It is through your generosity, for which I am infinitely grateful, that this concert series and early music in our region, will continue to grow and flourish.