Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Final Glimpses of Winter

And so here is my pick for Santa Claus of the year 2006. He arrived with a big fuss and apparently due to an elf strike had worked exceptionally hard last year and dropped quite a bit of weight. We told him he was still as cute as ever even though my niece cried in horror until she started getting presents from him. We thought the walking stick was a nice touch. I got to kiss both his cheeks and my mother even got to sit on his lap!....Thanks dad for making us laugh this year.
As for the other photo - you would think it was Narnia but ladies and gentleman it was the view outside my bedroom window this past winter. We had a magical snowfall in February. Now everything is blossoming and colourful and new life is beginning everywhere. It has been an inspirational weekend of sunshine.
I spent last Friday at a Vieux Farka Toure and Rachid Taha concert. Vieux Farka Toure is the son of the late African legend Ali Farka Toure. His music, like his fathers, is emotional, melodic, compelling, and pure. Rachid Taha was an incredible live act to watch as well - what a character. His Mandol player (Algerian instrument that sounds a bit like oud) was fantastic. I was gobsmacked and inspired as always. Rachid had the crowd up and dancing and his antics on stage were highly entertaining. I enjoyed the combination of trumpet and mandol - something I must keep in mind for future music. I joined the Barbican as a member to refrain from flying to the Continent at every opportunity to see my friends in the Armenian Navy Band. I must confess that I will be off to Marseille in May to see them but have promised myself to confine myself to England in future as there is such a wealth of World Music and entertainment coming through London. I still have not given up on getting the Armenian Navy Band to London and have put it forth to several different organisations here in hopes that someone will seize the opportunity to bring them here while they are touring France. We shall see.
The latest development is that Gor Mkhitaryan and I have decided to collaborate for a concert in Montreal. I feel Gor delivers emotion and sincerity in his music which makes him a pleasure to listen to. I feel our styles will definitely compliment each other and I look forward to meeting him and working with him. It looks like a trip to LA for some jam sessions will be in the cards for the future and I've got a positive vibe about the whole thing. Perhaps if all goes as well as I think it will there will be future possiblities together - and why not? It's fantastic to be able to bring music to a live audience - each show, each interpretation always has its uniqueness and that is the beauty of the ever changing, flexible musician. It is a joy to work with other artists and then sometimes it is nice to just sit back with the 6 string guitar with a small spotlight and your own voice floating out into the the vast darkness.
Currently I spend my days keeping my head above the water, looking to the future, playing my oud, playing my guitar, and trying not to lose the love I have for life. These next few months I will see Bobby McFerrin, Dhafer Youssef (this I am really excited about), Sheema Mukherjee, Kuljit Bhara, The Taoists, The World Music Awards (Gotan Project, Mahmoud Ahmed, Debashish Bhattacharya, and others), Hugh Masekela, Israel Lopez, Omar Puente, hopefully Blue Swerver and who knows what else. I met some interesting people at the Rachid Taha concert and discovered there is a place in Brixton with free live music so I am off to see The Taoists there this Saturday after going to what I hear is an extremely interesting exhibition at the Menier Chocolate Factory in East London. This exhibition is about the Ottoman Armenians - pre-genocide, during the genocide, and post genocide with many photographs and unseen documents. It will be very educational I am sure. I am also looking forward to catching one of our prized classical virtuoso's from Armenia - Sergey Khatchatryan at Wigmore Hall this Thursday.
I miss Armenia. I miss the friendships, the life, the air, the smells and even the dust. Sometimes I look around me and I think to myself "how did we end up here?". We know the answers but they are hard to accept. I will be singing a few songs on the 21st for an Armenian Genocide remembrance concert at the Ealing Town Hall. Both songs are about returning to the Homeland. One is an old traditional song which talks about the regions of Sassoun and Mush which are now in present day Turkey. The other is one of my songs about returning to the homeland - to Mount Ararat. The longing is always there and has always been there. I think the time is nearing where Turkey will take responsiblity for the actions of its predecessors. I will be so proud of the Turks then - for helping to heal the wounds of almost a century, for acknowledging the horror that befell the Armenians as Genocide. Perhaps then, all four of my grandparents who were orphans - ALL FOUR who barely survived the atrocities and related their stories with anguish,horror, and indescribable grief, will smile down from the heavens and finally rest in peace. I have faith that the Turkish people will unite to express the truth and stop the denial of their government which is really beginning to make it embarrassing for them. Ishallah.
So enough politics for now. We musicians like to express ourselves - but most of all we believe in sincerity. We know that only when we mean it is it ever really convincing to an audience and thus I live my life with conviction. I am here to live and stand for the truth - even if it will cost me what it cost Hrant Dink but I have faith it will not come to that. So here I am sending out peace but most of all a wish for those who do not see to see, those who do not hear to hear, and those who speak without understanding to seek wisdom and then to speak words that will spread love, confidence, peace, health and happiness. I am including myself in the above as well, as none of us will ever amount to perfection and life experience seems to be the greatest teacher of all. So lets live! As Avak Bedikian in Australia says "Live With Passion". Well said Avak!


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