The right questions—a world of answersPhoto credit: Norayr Kasper, "I Will Talk to You About Time." Fotoistanbul 2015.
All roads lead to Armenia: How Toronto-Armenian singer Eileen Herosian found home(land) In her late 20s, Iran-born, Toronto-based Eileen Herosian felt like she needed a change. After working in a pharmaceutical company for about two years, she decided that she wanted to do something completely different; she wanted to study music—Armenian music... Most folks in her position would dismiss the thought of switching careers as quickly as it came. Not Eileen, though. “I decided—you know what? I just have to go for it.” “It”—in this case—happened to be moving halfway around the world to her ancestral homeland to pursue her first love. “I found my purpose here. I found ways to change my attitude and become motivated here,” she explained at a Yerevan cafe as we chatted about her experiences of studying and living in Armenia. Since switching gears and moving to her homeland, Eileen has performed with a number of ensembles, sang in front of crowds all around Armenia and Russia, and was even given the opportunity to learn under renowned Romanian opera star Mariana Nicolesco. Currently, Eileen is living out her dream of singing in Yerevan State Chamber Choir, under the tutelage of the legendary Maestro Harutyun Topikyan. In this h-pem exclusive interview, Herosian discusses the highs and the lows of her journey that has taken her from Iran to Canada, and finally to Armenia, where she proudly calls home today.
From New York to Malawi and everywhere between: Meet global architect and urban designer Garine Boghossian From Beirut to Boston to New York (and Beijing, Bogota, Moscow, Berlin, Katowice, and Ulaanbaatar in between!), Brooklyn-based architect and an urban designer Garine Boghossian is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities and ways to be involved in her community(ies). Read her recent interview with h-pem below and find out what drives her, wherever she may be...
Reckoning quarter tones and beating the odds: Barkev Taslakian reaches polyphonic peaks Looking up to his “great teacher” Komitas, Maestro Barkev Taslakian relishes in breaking the mold and making history. His Fayha Choir is all about presenting unprecedented a capella renditions of Arabic songs, which have resonated with and captured the hearts of international audiences. Taslakian takes this vision even further to topple negative stereotypes and to promote unity and cultural diversity in an ever-divided world...
‘Critical Distance’: Raffi Joe Wartanian challenges himself to make more with less Armenian-born, Baltimore-bred, world-traveled, Raffi Joe Wartanian, digs deep in his new album, “Critical Distance,” which is expected to drop in time for Armenian Christmas. We had a chance to chat with Raffi about the record’s all-acoustic sound, the magic of the oud, and which tracks his grandmother, Knarig, loves jamming to!
Jivan Avetisyan's mission: Telling Artsakh’s story—one film at a time If one thing stuck with me during my introduction to director Jivan Avetisyan about a decade ago, it was that in spite of his humble nature, he was very proud of where he was from. Fast forward several years and it seems little has changed. “I am from Artsakh. You know, my roots run deep in Artsakh,” he tells me, without even giving me the chance to utter my first question. As we converse in his downtown Yerevan office over strong Armenian coffee and in between a barrage of phone calls he has to ignore, years on, his focus—and his creative output—continues to be zeroed in on one thing: his beloved, still-unrecognized nation…
Between the ephemeral and the eternal: Levon Eskenian’s de/re-construction of Gurdjieff and Komitas You do not see him on stage, yet Levon Eskenian has been taking his world-class Gurdjieff Ensemble to major festivals and music venues around the world, rendering ethnographically authentic music on traditional Eastern folk instruments and evoking the deep stirrings of ancient rituals. While invitations continue to pour in, we meet the man behind this unprecedented musical excavation, which has opened a new page in classical music.
When the aberrant come out to play: A chat with Lebanese-Armenian musician Gurumiran Long before mainstream publications like GQ and Bandcamp were making hipsteresque lists like “Ten Artists Redefining the Sound of the Middle East” or “Five Middle Eastern musicians to stream right now,” Miran Gurunian was quietly tearing up the underground Middle Eastern rock scene. From his early days as co-founder and guitarist of the pioneering rock band, Blend, to his current solo career as Gurumiran, this Lebanese-Armenian rocker has been pushing the envelope at every corner.
Sevan Kabakian: 'At Birthright Armenia, we give flight to people' If you’re a diasporan Armenian between the ages of 21-32 and seek a unique and thrilling experience in the homeland, then look no further than Birthright Armenia! For the past 15+ years, this volunteer internship enhancement program has provided over 1,000 diasporan youth from across the globe with countless professional and personal enrichment opportunities, connections with other engaged souls, and an abundance of unforgettable memories.
Resurrecting the exiled: A conversation with John Hodian of the Naghash Ensemble When Armenian-American composer John Hodian first heard Hasmik Baghdasaryan’s striking timbre, ringing across the sacred columns of Armenia’s Garni Temple, he was transfixed—he knew he had to work with her, but had no idea how. It took several years of ruminating and rummaging through some dusty manuscripts before he came across a fragment of a poem by Mkrtich Naghash, a long-forgotten 15th-century Armenian priest and poet from Dikranagerd (modern-day Diyarbakir). Hodian—at that point, a listless NYC composer who had just moved to Armenia—had finally found his inspiration: or in show tune-speak, the Hammerstein to his Rodgers.