Monday, January 28, 2008
So life is going by in a flash and I am convinced it is because I am enjoying it. December was spent feasting on scrumptious meals and taking in the holiday season with friends and family. There were evenings at art gallery's, film screenings, new restaurants and cultural events. I had friends from NY visiting at New Year so it was a nice opportunity to explore Santa Monica and have a meal at Duke's in Malibu where the fish is lovely and the view of the ocean is even better!
The more I spend time in LA, the more I realise just how many Armenians there are here - and how many different types of Armenians there are. I suppose when raised as a diasporan Armenian you believe that the commonality of culture ought to bind you together like blood brothers but the reality is that there are so many varieties within. I've met Armenians who could have been African Americans , Armenians from Armenia or Jewish or American....I suppose due to our assimiliation we are a varied people and nowhere seems to make it more evident than here in LA. With such a large concentration of Armenians in one place which consists of a melting pot of this culture from the homeland to all other unimaginable corners of the earth, I feel on my skin what it means to be dispersed to other parts of the world from your mother country. And so, the differences are many - but still when I managed to get a flat tire in the pouring rain up on Mullholland Drive, and the AAA came to change it for me, despite not having my cousin's membership number, one look at my drivers liscense and he said "My sister, why on earth did you not tell me you are Armenian"? That seemed to be enough to get the car fixed without any further questioning!
So whether or not I am in Yerevan or in Los Angeles, it seems if I cannot experience the Armenian Navy Band at the very least I can hear Arto play. Several weeks ago we had the priviledge of seeing him play at a club called "LaVeLee' with one of his current bands called "Kinsey" with a nice group of 12 people or so. I had Artyom the cellist on my right and Arto on stage and then my friend Hasmik from the Naregatsi Art Institute in Armenia on my left - I felt as if I was back in Yerevan at the Avante Garde Folk Club - it was a wonderful feeling and an evening of incredible jazz. I hope to make it there again.
So leading up to Mosaic II I did a few spots on Armenian television which were fun and also got some attention in the press. I also started freelance writing for the Armenian Reporter which is now available on the West coast. It can be viewed online at http://www.armenianreporteronline.com/. One of my recent articles was about Daniel Kevorkian the photographer from Florence that I mentioned in my last blog. It can be seen in the January 19th edition in the Arts & Culture section (page C14). He is also responsible for the photos above (makeup Talar Saboundjian) and many other fantastic ones that he took that evening can be seen in the February 4th issue where the top photo in this blog is on the front page. I was also personally featured in the Arts & Culture section (January 26th) where once again the photographs were taken by Daniel Kevorkian and the make-up was done by Talar Saboundjian. The article is a wonderfully comprehensive one by James Martin and the issues are viewable in PDF format once the site is accessed online.
So January 26th was also the Mosaic Performance at the Alex Theatre in Glendale that I was so looking forward to. I lucked out that Artyom (cellist and bass player of the Armenian Navy Band) was here in Los Angeles and agreed to work with me. I also had the massive talent and priveledge of having John Bilezikjian who plays oud and mandolin agree to join us. Greg Hosharian - also a musician with a lot of experience and wonderful taste played keyboards, and Mher Vahakn Ajamian joined us with percussion and some wonderful rhythms - including a great solo during the performance.
The bands of the evening were all very good. The opening band Cantus Capella left many in awe. The rock melodies were tight, clean, and full of energy. Accompanied by a powerful drummer, the singers strong dark and severe image in line with his incredible vocal ability truly made them one of the most enjoyable acts of the evening. Also along for the ride were popular local band Visa with their mix of Arabic, Greek, Turkish, Armenian rhythms and heavy use of the duduk, Zulal with their signature acapella folk songs and narrations, and Areni & Ochion who played some beautiful jazz compositions with Areni's angelic vocals that caused goosebumps. We were the closing act to a concert that lasted almost 4 hours and I am incredibly grateful to the audience that actually stuck it out and waited to hear us in the end. The response was phenomenal, the energy the audience gave to us was wonderful, and we enjoyed ourselves incredibly on the stage despite the fact that the time was getting late. It was nice to finish the show with the audience clapping along and actually wanting an encore! A great big thank you to my family in LA that finally got the opportunity to see me live - aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews but also a warm thank you to the local Armenians in LA who received us so positively. Also to the Hamazkayin Mosaic Committee and to all the organisers involved. Here's hoping we have another opportunity to play in LA very soon.
And so next on the cultural agenda is Vahe Berberian's play Baron Garbis which is playing at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. A review of the play can be seen in the same issue as my writeup. I look forward to getting out and experiencing more of this wonderful culture that seems to be thriving here in LA.
Until next time - enjoy the pictures and may this blog find you well and happy!