Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Marts"ing Along and Music in Lyon

Look at these floors!!! For anyone who has been following this blog from December 2005 you will know what they used to look like - and for those of you who have not done - please have a look at the December 2005 Blog in the archives and you will see how much of an improvement it is!
Thank you immensely to those who contributed to this renovation project in the village of Marts. There is still work to be done but with Spring around the corner the village will get back into action . I will continue with updated photos as I receive them.
So Lyon was phenomenal as expected. The good old favourites of mine (The Armenian Navy Band) were as good as ever. I got to hear them play the Natural Seeds album for the first time and also heard an accapella version of Bzdik Zinvor which I had never done. Arto sang while the entire rest of the Navy Band held one note like a duduk in the background. Each and every concert is unique and it is always so exciting to see what they come up with. A thanks to Arman Jelalyan and Vahagn Hayrapetyan (drummer and keyboardist) for their rhythmic dancing during the Arto signature beer bottle and saucepan rendition....It was a sight not to be forgotten. I got to explore Lyon with them as well as visit the Armenian Centre in Decines where the faces and characters were out of a movie. We enjoyed kebabs while the afternoon sun streamed through the windows and the old men gathered to play cards and backgammon. Arto entertained us with his humour and thoughts on life and we washed it all down with a lovely "tan" and Armenian coffee to follow. Monday morning was a visit to Radio Armenie which was a lot of fun. The girls who interviewed us were an absolute pleasure to work with and I was so happy to hear that you could switch on the radio anytime in Lyon and hear Armenian music. What a priviledge! Thanks to my friend Jean Charle who organised the interview for me and also took me to a divine lunch and showed me the impressive view of Lyon from the cathedral and the old Roman ampitheatre...I would love to see a summer show there. I found the Armenians in Lyon warm and friendly. I hope I will have a chance to return and perhaps present some of my own work there.
So! Back to the English grind...practising oud, playing guitar, piano, singing, thinking, writing, being....It's a good time. It seems I've been invited to participate in Mosaic II - a concert in LA next January. That should be a nice opportunity to be back in the US and also catch up with some of the other artists that I know will be there - not to mention my 30 something cousins in LA!! Hayde......Zanku chicken here I come....
Things seems to be rising through the fabric - weaving into some form of an unknown exciting journey that will keep life the way I felt it is meant to be lived. This month I am on the Australian newsletter called Armenian Happenings which is a very informative piece of email by the way! How do those Ozzies find out about everything way over there?? Well done and thanks for the info.
My space seems to be a new discovery of mine thanks to a lot of friends urging I get myself up there. For those of you who are interested you can have a look And as for London - May 19th is looking like a likely date for a concert - I shall keep you posted. It's good to be alive with Spring ahead. So pleased the school is coming along in the village and hopefully there will be reason to go to Armenia in the near future. Ahhhh - but who needs a reason for Armenia??? :)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Remembering Hrant Dink

What was a last minute event organised by Amnesty International UK, English PEN, Index on Censorship and the Armenian Institute at the Amnesty International UK building in London turned out to be an overwhelmingly moving event in which I believe who Hrant was and what he represented were portrayed accurately and vividly. I was touched to be able to participate - even if it was with poetry rather than song and I must say a special thank you to Nouritza Matossian who organised the event and invited me to recite.
We had music by Levon Chilingirian, vocalist Sonia Vartoukian, and duduk player Tigran Alexanyan, different personal accounts from those who knew Hrant, photos of his life and the day of his funeral, a reading of his wife Rakel's eulogy, and what I think was most moving was the ipromptu footage that Nouritza had videoed while visiting him in Turkey.
Hrant Dink was truly a great man. He was a man who was not afraid to love and to speak the truth. He upheld some of the most important values of human life and achieved a great amount in his lifetime which was brutally cut short. As I watched him on film I wanted to run up and throw my arms around him and tell him how I loved him. I am grateful to all the Turks who realise what he stood for and who realise that the past should be dealt with so that we can come together with tolerance once and for all. I am grateful to the Armenians who will carry on his legacy and to all the other organisations who struggle for truth and justice to prevail through the dark veil of politics. It is not a just world but we do well to follow those who seek to make it so, those who shine like a great beacon of light on humankind, whose love and honesty is more powerful than any weapon. They may have put out his light but we as human beings can carry on shining for everything that Hrant Dink stood for.