Friday, September 22, 2006

One Week of Heaven and Hell

So I admit to taking full advantage of the fact that my parents are here in Armenia for the first time. I have jumped on their minivan on several ocassions to see parts of Armenia I hadn't seen at all or had seen 20 years ago. Its been wonderful to spend time with them here and to see them going through the emotions that I first had coming here as a diasporan Armenia. Every photo except the 2nd and 3rd which are the same church are in a different region of Armenia. I gave up seeing another region today so that I could catch up with work and the less fortunate turn of events that took place in Yerevan.
I arrived in Armenia to find that although some things had been prepared regarding my concert on the 24th, with all the other events going on in town, 10 days before my posters had not yet been put up, the tv
advertisment had not been shown, and unfortnuately only a very small amount of sponsorship had been gained. Furthermore there had been no radio play and the music video had not aired and we were even lacking a percussionist. So naturally I called it off rather than committing career suicide. Although the musicians were not entirely pleased I felt that having them play to a hall that takes 600 people that would in the most optimistic light only have 300 people in it the day of the concert would be a lot more crushing to everyone's morale. So the plan is to give a concert at the end of October and it looks like it will be the 25th of October at the Avante Garde Folk Club on Pushkin Street and we may even add a show on the 26th. Yerevan has finally cooled down a little bit. Last night we celebrated 15 years of independence. It began with a military parade and ended with concerts and fireworks all over the city. Mayhem was once again in play and all had a good time.
There was so much going on that the electricity blew around midnight and I ended up giving an acoustic impromptu concert at our favourite wine bar. Makeshift was once again in play.
So much changes yet nothing changes here in Yerevan. I am happy to be here once again and look forward to what lies ahead. Will keep you posted.
Peace and love

The Marts School Project

And so I made it up to the village this past week with parents and friends in tow who were experiencing Armenia for the first time. It was wonderful to see that new desks and chairs had arrived, that there was running water in the newly tiled kitchen and buffet, and the classrooms are in the process of being refloored.
You can imagine my joy after all this time. A special thank you to Beecroft Primary School in Leeds, England for all of their dedication to this project, The Suner family in Seattle Washington who made it possible to do more than just the floor, and of course Shahe Khachadourian from Lebanon, not to mention everyone else who was involved - whether large or small - every little bit helped to make this project a possibility. Thank you!
The floors will be sanded and varnished and they have now been instructed to lay the wood in a slightly different manner to increase the longevity of the floor. There are 18 rooms in total - it is a big job but we seem to have it covered!
I will visit again in future and photograph the progress.
Until then I think they will be hammering away.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In the Hands of God

Last night 1000 freshly pressed CD's arrived in England - 500 of which I will take to Armenia. I hear that Kotayk Beer is sponsoring my concert on the 24th. I wonder if this will entail my having to take swigs of beer while singing? Flattering nevertheless to have such a household name involved. I also hear that the mock up of the printed CD booklet looks very nice from various different sources who have seen it. I am excited to have a look. I think Arsineh Khachikian did a beautiful job on the graphic design. My musicians have already rehearsed bar a percussionist which they are having difficulty finding - this is a bit frightening. There seem to be no other bites on sponsorship other than Kotayk and that is frightening too. Some tv stations insist on having me as a guest before airing the music video - these are all unforseen little bumps which unfortunately do not help the PR side of things.
Well - I have played, practised, felt, loved, cried, lost and gained in my project this last year. I aim to get on the stage on September 24th and give a performance in which every fiber of my being will be resonating that which I believe in and experienced. I pray that all things will come together. I can do no more but to leave this last bit of the project to unravel just as it should.
We fly to Armenia tomorrow (my parents will be going for the first time). I find it hard to believe that 5 weeks went so quickly. I am mixed with excitement, anxiety, joy, and the old enemy that tries to creep in called fear. That last one I will have to boot up the bottom once I leave the house! Fear is just one of those annoying things that seems quite pointless in life as all you need to do is overcome it mentally.
There is a bit of very very surprising and good news!! I received an email last week saying that the deciding educational board in Marts village had second thoughts about delaying the work and wanted to "strike while the iron was hot" . I hear they are working as we speak and should wrap up before the cold winter sets in. I never thought they would make that decision while the kids were in school! I hope to take my parents up to the village and will take photos if I make it up there. At the end of the day the work will be done - it is a matter of when and it would be quite nice to see it finished after all the effort and donations of many generous people that went towards the project. I can't wait! The principal of the school sent the following message this week "Qeznitz shat shnorhakal klinen mer erexanere, menq el ankaskats.Ete amen mi spyurqahay qo aratsi 10 tokosn aner, hima menq tas angam aveli bareketzik erkrum kapreinq." For those who do not understand Armenian he says "The children of the village and undoubtedly the rest of the village are very thankful for the work that you are doing and that if every diasporan Armenian did even 10% of what we organised then Armenia would be 10 times better off as a country". I would like to say thanks to everyone involved who participated - I only had the idea and all of you gave the means. God bless you.
So this is it. We'll see what happens from here and as I say in the title I am most definitely in the hands of God and look forward to discover exactly what is supposed to happen next.
From my last day in the land of rain. Finally!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Oh Paris! (Paghee)!

Four days in a city which I had from previous experience classed as unfriendly and pretentious but what a nice surprise to be incorrect! I had a lot of time to myself these past few days which allowed me to reflect on life, Past, future, present - all of which seem incredibly intense at the moment but truthfully I would expect no less with so many changes in the last year.
I was in Paris to get the mastering of the CD done and to get the duplication on the go so that we could have it all ready for the concert on the 24th of September. I was extremely fortunate to have this side of the project (ie: mastering, duplication, not to mention 2 song arrangements) sponsored by a dear friend Bernard Ganimian who has been aware of
my musical past and has supported and encouraged my growth and
perseverance in this side of my life. After a gruelling security check which included a queue that was two hours long, a body scan and body search where I felt like I might get an interrogation because I forgot my Vicks inhaler in my handbag I actually made it on the plane to Paris.
We had an incredibly delicous Pizza (yes we were in France I realise) with some lovely wine and caught up on the whole process I had been through. Tuesday was spent at the mastering studio all day in which I worked with Jean Pierre at LA Source Studios. Jean Pierre was a very tall man with 3/4 length shorts, a tshirt, and red trainers. He reminded me very much of Gerard Depardieu and it wasn't just his being French or his nose. It was entertaining nevertheless and now the CD should resonate equally on all sorts of devices! Bernard took me to a lovely sushi meal in the evening (again I realise I was in Paris but was having withdrawal as good Sushi is hard to come by). After an early night I went back to the mastering studio to fine tune a few things and then we rushed off to the duplication so that we could get it all done on time. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets of Paris. I had the odd cafe sitting at the streetside bistros watching the passers by. I went in search of Creme Brulee and ended up with Tart au Citron. The rubbish collectors passing by wished me a good appetite while I had lunch, random people on the street smiled, even a gentleman offered to pay for my coffee in the evening while surrounded by his friends - I thought this sort of thing doesn't happen in England. Paris is such a friendly place! I spent the evening reading a book in my hotel room and listening to music.
Thursday was spent much the same way wandering around Paris and taking in the sights but was followed by a surprise trip to Monmarte thanks to Bernard on route to the airport. I adore going there and so it was a great way to end a ponderous few days. A massive thank you to Bernard for taking care of this end of things. I only pray the concert will be well attended and a good reflection of all the work that we put in these last four months.
And so! 4 days left to go back to Armenia. I shall have to decide what to take in my suitcase as I have the wonderful security checks to look forward to, need to carry 500 CD's and am only allowed 23 kilos. Hmmmmm....
I am sure all will be well! Will be writing to you from the blistering heat of Yerevan next time around.
Peace and love