What's trending in the world of Armenian culturePhoto credit: Norayr Kasper, "Residues of a Slogan." Fotoistanbul 2015.
Film |'Pegasus': Riding Daniel Varoujan's "steed of fire" towards uncharted cliffs It’s World Wildlife Day! Our focus at h-pem today is on "Pegasus," the poem based on the divine horse in Greek mythology, that fueled the imagination of Daniel Varoujan, one of the early 20th century’s most celebrated Western Armenian poets.
‘Zatik, Zatik’: Celebrating Easter with good tidings When Maestro Krikor Alozian restarted rehearsals after a long gap amidst pandemic, little did he know that a simple video recording of a well-toiled and tinkered little song would go a long way towards reviving ancient Armenian rituals. How did he do this? We had a brief phone conversation with the conductor to find out how he came up with an impressive little gem.
'Martiki yerg': Holding the motherland in our hearts The Nairyan Vocal Ensemble actively participated in releasing patriotic songs and keeping up the morale of the nation during the 44 day Artsakh war in autumn. As we honor the troops of Armed Forces in Armenia and Artsakh on Army Day, we dedicate the ensemble’s a cappella rendition of “Martiki yerg” (“Մարտիկի երգ” | “Soldier’s Song”) to those who fought bravely to defend our motherland.
Song | 'Where were you, God, when prayer froze on the lips of my nation?' Hearts quiver with the questions posed in Arthur Meschian’s uniquely rebellious rock-prayer “Ur eir, Astvats” (“Ո՞ւր էիր, Աստուած” | “Where Were You, God?”), especially after a year of loss, heartache, and looming dangers in our homeland. While many Armenians struggle to come to terms with the catastrophic changes in Armenia and Artsakh, Sandra Arslanian, a Beirut-based Armenian singer, and C-rouge, a Yerevan-based musician, collaborate for a celestial rendition of the song. Why would it matter that a new version of an old favorite was premiered just before the end of the year? H-pem reflects on the origins of the song and the remarkably cathartic new single, with illuminating quotes from exclusive interviews.
The Spitak earthquake: Healing through music three decades on While the world has turned a blind eye to the current atrocities, the displacement of thousands of native Armenians, and the ethnic cleansing in Artsakh, it is ironic to remember that 32 years ago today, it took an earthquake to put Armenia on the world map, as world-famous artists chipped into fundraising efforts with the talents they possessed.
Poem | Artsakh’s ‘The legend of the mountains’ On Sept. 27, the peaceful people of Artsakh awoke to the sound of missile strikes crashing down on their homes. In the two weeks since, this storied, ancient homeland has become the battleground for renewed violence. As an arts and cultural platform, we hope to offer some solace, strength, and solidarity through the written form. The words of beloved Artsakhtsi poet and playwright, Vazgen Ovian (1932-1987), ring as true today as they did when he penned them over 50 years ago…
Soft as velvet: Miqayel Voskanyan & Friends' ‘homey’ tribute to ‘Makhmur Aghjik’ For the past nine years, the Miqayel Voskanyan & Friends Band (MVF Band) has been cementing their place in the Armenian music scene—and beyond. Their distinct take on the folk genre has taken them on tour across Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and there is hardly a club or venue in Yerevan where they have not jammed. These days, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced musicians inside. But the folks at MVF Band are undeterred. Check out the music video of their latest song, a beautiful cover of “Makhmur Aghjik,” below!
'My Artsakh': How a group of Canadian-Armenian vocalists created an unforgettable mash-up Chances are you’ve all heard the songs—classics and more recent ballads (six in all) dedicated to Artsakh, its history, its natural beauty, its people, and its heroes... But you’ve probably never heard them as a part of a mash-up! Read all about “My Artsakh” in this h-pem exclusive!
Your go-to Armenian cultural list! An antidote to viral isolation... These are trying times: The world is being overrun by an insidiously contagious virus, schools and businesses have shuttered, and people all across the world are physically locked-in and virtually logged-on. Since the advent of the internet, many have posited whether the invention can bring us closer or drift us further apart. For the time being, our “real” world has been suspended and moved to a “virtual” reality. It is perhaps the biggest migration in the shortest span of time in history. If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we all need connection, community, and comfort. One of the heartwarming sides of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an explosion of all three C’s—whether it’s neighbors singing songs from their balconies, museums posting exhibitions online for free, or musicians livestreaming their concerts. Art is the antidote...
'Inch G'ella': Collectif Medz Bazar is changing the tune of despair, that's what! Stomp your feet to this latest Collectif Medz Bazar tune, full of raging emotional envy and a continuous pumping beat—a reflection of uncompensated affection (sans-melancholy). Directed and edited by the colorful genius behind their extravagant "Poshmanella" video, Samuel Buton, and shot at the New Morning in Paris, the “Inch G'ella” music video perfectly presents the second single from their third studio album, “O”—another collection of multilingual indie-folk-experimental hits from the eclectic group.
'Bells & White Branches': ‘Tis the season for Gracie Terzian's ukulele In her new album, “Bells & White Branches,” jazz singer Gracie Terzian recreates six Christmas classics with her signature voice and everyone’s favorite tropical instrument: the ukulele! The result is a unique reimagining of these timeless tunes…
'I Promised Her Life': Defying tradition through loss What happens when you defy tradition? In the gripping short family drama, “I Promised Her Life,” an Armenian mother tackles the interplay between tradition and agency at her daughter’s funeral. The result is a devastating rendering of death and the afterlife through cultural superstition. Watch the film online, for free!
'Khrovats Er': The beauty of angst and despair The talent at TUMO Center for Creative Technologies seems boundless. Much has been said about their digital media and tech innovations, but their musical productions deserve equal praise. Check out this beautiful rendition of “Khrovats Er” by TUMO band Decibelle, featuring Element Band!
'Garmi': A soothing love song in the Hemshin dialect At first glance, this song about a “red girl” seems like a beautiful, yet ordinary, Armenian folk love song. Except that it is neither a folk song nor Armenian—at least, not quite. “Garmi” meaning “red” in the Hamshen dialect (or “karmir” / «կարմիր» in Armenian) is a song composed by Meluses, a contemporary folk-rock band from Turkey. This soothing version, by two young Lebanese-Armenians, will transport you to the idyllic villages of the Hemshin people.
‘Im Chinari Yare’: The Kousan Chamber Choir's theatrical twist on a Komitas classic The lyrics are looped in pursuit of the significant other and the melody makes one dance on tiptoes. They ring down through the ages to spin a jovial celebration of love. Yet, there is more to the newly released video clip of the song by the Hamazkayin Kousan Chamber Choir of Lebanon. It highlights the vibrant side of a pioneering composer’s legacy and imbues his creative world with tangible warmth.
Sounds of Sevan: Delight in the acoustics of Armenia’s beloved lake Ever visited a breathtaking trail, a vast blue ocean, or some other natural wonder and thought, “someone should bottle up these soothing sights and sounds to savor them year-round”? Well, that is exactly what Sounds of Sevan has done with Lake Sevan—and they have taken her all the way to Britain’s capital!