Friday, October 27, 2006

The Gift of Music

I am currently experiencing the aftermath of what I would consider one of the most enjoyable concerts I have ever given. Last night at the Avante Garde Folk Club we the musicians and they the audience seem to have connected on some wonderful level. I have never enjoyed the stage so much or felt such great emotion and energy circulating between audience and performer. Opening night was also successful and enjoyable but I think yesterday I reached some kind of milestone in musical experience and understanding that will stand out for me for a long time. It was magic for me - I am very emotional about it!
I would like to thank everyone involved in this project - the incredible musicians who created a wonderful atmosphere last night: Hagop Jaghaspanyan-guitar, Eduard Hartunyan-percussion, Levon Tevanyan-Shvi, Armen Grigoryan-duduk, Nelly Manoukyan-flute, Mary Vardanyan-qanun, Astghik Ghazaryan - oboe, Meruzhan Yeghanyan-accordion, Haik Babayan-Cello, Lilit Mkhitaryan-Viola, Lusine Aghababyan, 2nd Violin, Gemma Abrahamyan-1st Violin, Artyom Manoukyan - Cello, Anna Bayatya - backing vocals. Thank you.
I would like to thank Narine Zarifyan for her hard work in pulling together the rehearsals. Raffi Niziblian, Arsineh Khachikian and the girls at Deem Communications who made things happen, Manoog Caprielian for helping with achieving sponsorship and promotion, The British Council and Kotayk for the sponsorship, Serli from Birthright for her diligence in putting up posters and recruiting people, the girls who sold CD's, the Folk Club (Arayig/Armine) for giving us the hall and a superb sound technician - Grisha - thanks. Thanks to all of the people from press and publicity who covered the show - John Hughes/Armenia Now, Tar 21, Inessa and her crew from Sharm, Shoghagat, and anyone else that I wasn't aware of! To all the TV and radio stations that invited me prior to the concert and are inviting me still - thank you! To the photographers like Nareg, Hawk, and Artur for capturing those moments. Also the British Alumni Assocation for pulling together so many people to support the show, Armen Movsisyan, Mr X, Levon Blbulyan, Raffi Hovhannesyan, Shahe Khatchadourian and absolutely every single body that was there to share in those moments. For those of you that were there from abroad - if you enjoyed the experience, we would be happy to come and share the music in different parts of the world too so keep us in mind! Thank you to all of you who came - to the fans - you are the most important of all.
Being a musician is a strange road - you touch so many people and feel so much in life but in reality it can be a lonely road. Those two hours on the stage are moments that are indescribable - you are allowed to lay yourself bare - open up and show all emotion - and its okay. No one will tell you you care too much or you are too intense. You are actually allowed to really feel. Something that people often are afraid to experience on a daily basis. Yet on the stage - every minute we feel great joy or bleed with pain takes our audience on a journey with us and makes the difference between something stagnant or something that is very real. And perhaps because the performer is separated from the audience by the stage, the audience allows themselves to be taken on a journey they would not allow themselves to take on a daily basis. So I guess what I am saying is that I wish people would allow themselves to feel more things more of the time. It is wonderful stuff to be true to your heart.
So! Enough philosphising. I am not sure what lies ahead on this path but I know to keep following it. I will put up concert photos once I receive them from the various wonderful people that took the photos. Once again - thank you to everyone who contributed in any way shape or form - from inspiring me to come to Armenia in the first place to the person who might have stuck up a poster for me. You are all part of the framework - thank you. Will be back with more excitement from autumnal Yerevan.
Peace and love

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Photos as Promised

Here are some photos (several weeks later) of the preparation of the Aznavour concert and the actual show :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Final Countdown

One week to go and I will be back up there with the warm glaring lights, 13 musicians, and quite a lot of expectant eyes and ears! It was quiet building up to this week but now it seems it's all rock and roll. I have an interview with Armenia Now tomorrow and another one with Channel One for a program called "Veradarts Tebi Abaka" (Return to the future). Monday and Tuesday promise a morning interview on Channel One, rehearsals, morning interview with the much loved and mutually dreaded Raffo and Hovo on Armenia TV, and another radio interview in the afternoon with Hay FM radio station followed by more rehearsing.
Yerevan is plastered with "Sonya" posters and thankfully to Arsineh my face is not plastered on them and therefore vanity is underplayed in the process! Phew! TV commercials start this Friday as to a more frequent showing of the music video and hopefully it will bring the crowds.
On a different note I have been taking a lot of the quiet time to think about life in general and I have come to the realisation that it is truly difficult to be an artist/musician and have people outside of the field "get you". Sometimes it is an incredibly lonely place to be... Where others my age have bouncing babies I seem to have concerts. It should be said that bouncing babies are a miracle in themselves and I would be mad to not want some of my own and I suppose I should start by accepting marriage offers perhaps!!! It has been a sad few days for Armenia. One of their much loved singers has died in a car crash. She was in her 30's with a loving family and a wonderful little boy with whom she recently did a duet and music video. She loved life and it is terrible to go so young and so suddenly. I feel for her family and mostly for her little boy who must be so confused and hurt right now.
On a lighter note I went to see a film called "Medz Badmutyun Pokr Kaghakum" (A Big Story in a Little City). This Yerevan production was absolutely hysterical. I spent a good part of the 90 minute film dying of laughter. Anyone who has not been to Yerevan should see this film to get a very real snapshot of the lifestyle and characters that exist in Yerevan. The story is great - I will not give too much away. Have a look for it on Armenian info pages. It's a real treat.
Also looking forward to many concerts coming up at the end of the month apart from my own - Gatuner, John & Bet Williams, Lilit Pipoyan, Artur Meschian, Shushan Petrossyan - should be a fantastic time. A time for inspiration for sure.
Autumn is my favourite time of year - it is inspirational regardless. To be here in Yerevan and watch the cold take hold of the city, the cafe's pack up, the tourists disappear. It is a great time for reflection and creativity.
On that note am off to have dinner with photographer friend Paze who has been hassling me to finish this blog because he is starving. With due respect...
Ciao, Hajogh, Paka...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Concert Preparations (Take 2)

Phone calls, PR, Marketing, Mingling, Strumming, Singing, ahhhh the joys and excitment that lead up to a performance! I now have two large billboards up in the city centre - one at the Opera and one near Kino Moscow (see photo where I am visibly uncomfortable POSING alongside the billboard to give an idea of the size of the thing). I will do the diasporan "Hotline" show this Friday which gets broadcast internationally to promote the CD release of "Janapar" - I think I will also have them run the music video "Hambuyr". All is well so far in the line of giving this a better shot. The best news of all is that the British Council has agreed to sponsor me for part of the costs of the concert. They have agreed to pay for the musicians which is a significant portion of the expenses. So! With decent ticket sales we might even break even! My relief is of a very grand scale and I must say a special thank you to Manoog Caprelian who was kind enough to suit up and come with me and make a fantastic impression on the Council. As of yesterday, the CD is available in most CD shops in the Yerevan city centre, it is downloadable from and should shortly be avaialable on as well. It can be previewed on too - a great little website coming out of California.
Monday morning is another morning talk show on Nor Alik/Channel 1. I reckon there will be a few more before the show. Also with postponing the date it seems I will have all the same musicians as those who played on the CD so it will be wonderful to celebrate both evenings with them.
On the social front I got to see a superb unplugged evening at Stop Club with Arto Tuncboyaciyan, Artyom Manoukyan, and Vahak (their keyboardist). It was unlike their folk club gigs and really was about the big boys having a jam session in someone's basement. It was incredibly special. The mixture of rhythms, ideas, sounds - a true work of genius tinged with insanity - wonderful.
I had a Friday evening with the British Alumni Association which composes of young Armenian professionals who have studied in the UK and have now returned home (Armenia) to work. They are a great bunch of people and I will be joining them regularly as I was impressed by the numbers of movers and shakers in the group who are really doing something for Armenia. It was a priviledge to be welcomed as a member.
Finally I had the pleasure of playing/jamming with other young musicians who are here. One in particular - my friend Andre Simonian is also here in Armenia doing music and it has been wonderful to have evenings where we play guitar or jam with his musicians. There is an incredible amount of talent here and I am excited to be meeting and working with these people. I feel alive again. It is good to be back.
I am meeting with the mayor of the village tomorrow and will find out about the progress of the work in the school. Apart from that I hope to dodge the city this weekend and maybe get out and catch the foliage. After all - autumn is my favourite season. Would be nice to sit in peace for a day! I must say we've had two massive rainbows over Yerevan this week - I love to see them. I always remember about God's promise of peace when I see them. Rainbows do put me at peace!
Will try and get up a photo of the billboard and other concert stuff. Trying to get photos on the computer of the massive Charles Aznavour concert that took place last weekend but I am sure has provided some for show. Will go and check them out actually.
Till the next time...
Peace and love