Posts Tagged ‘armenian heritage’

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[Web Wrap]: Armenia is Calling Me.

April 13, 2010

By Liana Aghajanian via ianyan Magazine

When I was an awkward 12-year-old, trying to make friends, fit in and figure out my place in the world, I got plucked from a public school and put into a private Armenian institution for two years. It wasn’t by choice. The school district had a problem with the fact that I lived one street over from their designated city line and so off to Armenian school I went, for better or for worse.

It took one year (and countless horrific hours memorizing Armenian conjugations and reciting snippets of ancient Armenian history in front of a bunch of bored prepubescents) but I finally felt like I had made a place in this strange, yet comforting environment.

As the end of junior high approached, classes were routinely taken on trips to Armenia as a last hurrah before venturing off to the scary world of high school, where you end up right back down at the bottom of the hierarchy again.

Please read on…

Khor Virap Monastary with Mount Ararat

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Credit: Andrew Behesnilian
via Wikipedia Commons

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[Web Wrap]: Armenia Article by Tyler Guthrie.

March 24, 2010

Tyler Guthrie, a freelance writer living in Seattle, visited Armenia and wrote about his impressions for the “Washington Post”. The article caused quite a stir here at our offices. Everybody wanted to chime in and express all kinds of emotions, from joining the Tyler Guthrie fan club to being utterly surprised about his findings.

So we call on you now. Let us know what you think, comment here or on the Washington Post page (or both) and get a conversation going.

Armenia shows signs of a past beset by man-made and natural disasters

By Tyler Guthrie

The bus stopped at the Armenian-Georgian border, and as the only American on board, I was ushered past soldiers lazily holding assault rifles to a shed where my passport was checked. A shirtless border guard who had been cooking soup moments before quickly printed a $15 entry visa from an HP LaserJet but flatly refused Georgian lari as payment. Luckily, I was able to bum enough drams from a stranger on the bus to Gyumri, Armenia’s second-largest city, to cover the cost.

The whole article here.

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Credit: Ara Jingirian

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[Web Wrap]: Cultural Tidbits — Armenian Navy Band.

March 9, 2010

Via Zohrab Center

Founded in 1998 by Turkish-born Armenian musician Arto Tuncboyaciyan, the Armenian Navy Band is comprised of twelve of Armenia’s most talented jazz and traditional musicians and uniquely performs the compositions of Tuncboyaciyan, a genre of music he refers to as “avant garde folk.” The Armenia-based ANB has put out six CDs over the past ten years and has performed all over world, going on tour in the US, Europe and throughout Turkey. In 2006, the ANB won the BBC World Music Audience “Best Performer” Award. Accepting the award outside of London, Tuncboyaciyan played his distinctive beer bottle for an audience of thousands.

Please click here to continue reading.

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[Listening to Armenia]: The Magic Kanoun Carpet

December 11, 2009

By Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

Take one grand piano, shrink it to a tenth the size, take off the top, lose the keys, and place it on your lap – you are about to play the Kanoun. But it won’t be easy to master this Caucasian/Middle Eastern zither instrument. Keeping your fingers moving quickly across about 70 strings, which you must tune with your left while playing the melody with the right, gives new meaning to the word multi-tasking. At times, you might have to tune your ear to quarter tones (that’s an even smaller degree of note than the Western musician is typically used to). Multi-tasking, tonal detail, and physical balance – women often cross their legs under the flat instrument – are the least demanded of you.

A student at FAR’s Octet Music School in Gyumri
Performs on the Kanoun

Credit: Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

To listen and watch takes less effort, however, and easily dazzles eyes and ears. A vibrating metallic sound cascading in waves across a melody and filling in the lines of syncopated rhythms makes the music of one player match that of several. While watching the spectacle (if not engaged already in a desire to dance), one starts to imagine the relation to another renowned talent of the region – one of silence but with an equal outcome of mesmerizing color. The musician plays the Kanoun like a loom, as if the strings were threads creating beautiful patterns of sound – a tonal carpet of reds, greens, purples, and blues all intertwined in an intricate song of unique pleasure.

Click on the video below of a virtuosic Armenian Kanoun player performing in traditional dress to experience the music and instrument for yourself.

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[Listening to Armenia]: Happy Birthday, Yerevan!

October 27, 2009

By Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

Yerevan, with towering Ararat watching over it, turns 2791 years old this year. On October 11th, this ancient city burst forth in a birthday celebration full of music, dance, parades, fireworks, light shows, and songs of Yerevan – new and old. People spilled out onto the streets with festive gatherings and carried out morning-til-night jubilations.

Morning View of Yerevan City Center from the Cascade

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Credit: Paul Sookiasian

Erebuni, as it was first named, was born to this land in 782, BC. The Urartians, ancestors to today’s Armenian people, under the rule of King Argishti founded the city as a strategic fortress town, strengthening their power in the Araratian plains as they moved their empire eastward.  2791 years later, Yerevan officials closed the city center of cars while parade participants gathered on this king’s street, Argishti, in front of the Yerevan Municipality and History buildings. With a rush of red, blue and orange, citizens waving flags flooded the main avenues as they sang and danced throughout a city covered with banners, succinctly reading, “Sirum em Quez Erevan” (“I love you, Yerevan”). From ancient times to modern, not a moment has been left unloved, uncared for, or unsung.

We wish you at least another 2791 more, Yerevan!

Performance stages set up around the city encouraged everyone to enjoy music and dance. Here is a video of folk-dressed performers and citizenry alike joining in the day’s fun.

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Hayastani Kidak Society Met at St. Leon’s Church

October 8, 2009

While summer just ended, it doesn’t feel too early to start thinking about traveling to Armenia next summer! At St. Leon’s Church in Fair Lawn, NJ, the Fund for Armenian Relief (“FAR”) had its Hayastani Kidak Society kick-off event with St. Leon’s ACYOA Seniors a couple weeks ago. Alumni from FAR’s recent Armenia trips came to meet and mingle with ACYOA members from throughout New Jersey. As those new to FAR’s offerings showed interest in next year’s journey to Hayastan, the get together also provided a wonderful opportunity to socialize across the Hudson, keep in touch with friends, and make a few new ones, too. The Hayastani Kidak Society will host more events with parishes in the upcoming months. Contact Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr at daniele@farusa.org for more information or join us on Facebook.

St. Leon’s ACYOA and Hayastani Kidak Kick Off

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[Listening to Armenia]: Eurovision and the Power of Musical Identity

September 10, 2009

By Daniele Faye Sourian Sahr

Two beautiful sisters with smiling eyes and sparkling smiles carried, with their musical talent, Armenia right upfront onto the international stage. Their voices, smooth as Caucasian obsidian and clear as Aragats mountain streams, mesmerized Eurovision audiences in Moscow as viewers held their phones, ready to text in votes. This was May 2009 and the sisters were Anush and Inga, well-known Armenian folk-pop singers, who meld traditional instruments, dance movements, and stylized costumes with exciting new choreography, upbeat rhythms, and a showmanship that not only enthralls but inspires a desire to join in, their fame and dazzling performance somehow not eliminating their welcoming demeanors. Anush and Inga led Armenia to the finals and won the nation a spot in 10th place.

Three months later, in Azerbaijan, young text message voters had a shocking surprise. Eurovision had encouraged international interaction in a free, open, and, one might almost say, “music without borders” setting. How hopeful to see that some Azeri voters chose, thus, to support Anush and Inga out of all the possible contestants. But Azerbaijan’s government thought otherwise and called these voters in for questioning – why had they not voted for their own ethnic contestants, themselves competing in the finals? Nevertheless, some interviewed Azeri voters said Anush and Inga’s performance felt closer to their cultural roots than that of the Azeri contestant’s.

Sayat Nova’s Tomb in Tbilisi, Georgia

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Credit: Davit Karapetyan

Rewind 200 years to find an Armenian musician, fluent in Armenian, Georgian, and Turkish. This multi-cultural understanding gave him, in his lifetime, a reputation extending beyond Caucasian rocks and rivers. There was no Eurovision for Sayat Nova, himself deeply rooted in Armenian culture but open to the artistic possibilities of the neighboring cultures. For him, there were no audience votes or text messages. But sometimes our technological developments matter not. Were there royal courts threatened by his artistic creations? Maybe. For music often transcends time and develops in a dimension defined instead by human expression and identity. Even as entertainment, it is forever motivating, stirring, and testing boundaries.

Hope you enjoy this link of Inga and Anoush performing “Nor Par Jan Jan” (Nor Par means New Dance) at the Eurovision Semi-Finals.