Monday, February 9, 2009

A percussionist who participated in Yerevan’s annual National Musical Awards came to our house the day after the concert/presentation of winners. “Any semblance of moral standards no longer exists, when it comes to those running our culture. Did you see how several of the female stars, the best known, were dressed? I’m sure any non-Armenians who saw the show were laughing their heads off. These people, who call themselves singers, have no pride. I heard that one of them tried to have a concert in Fresno and only 30 tickets were sold, so the concert didn’t take place. And when she and another of the big stars planned another concert for the New Year, again not enough tickets were sold, so they sang for a banquet that had already been organized. The Armenian papers, naturally, praised the event and the singers, as if there was nobody on the planet with their talent and patriotism.”

The musician continued, now about the award presentation in Yerevan: “Most of those in the audience were from the young set, which had no idea of anything except Yerevan’s pop culture. They cheered wildly when one of their heroes received an award, but when Barsegh Tumanyan got his award for the best classical disc of 2008, there was hardly anyone who clapped. And when Shoghaken received notice for their Music from Armenia as the best folk recording of the year, again almost no one clapped. This is sad. Like when you (Hasmik and Aleksan) were on stage and thanking everyone for the award, no one knew that the trophy you were holding wasn’t yours, that yours had been “dropped and broken” by some pop stars, and that you’d be receiving your trophy later. And perhaps no one noticed that every other album had a proper presentation, announcing who the singer or singers were, yet your names weren’t mentioned, either for your Music from Armenia or your Horovel: Work Songs of Armenia CDs.

“Do you know what I saw behind the scene, in the dressing rooms? Young male pop stars and their stylists, putting eye liner on their overly-trimmed eyebrows, not to mention the excess makeup on their faces. No wonder most of them make a whining noise instead of singing. And another disgusting thing, when they have their pop stars, some who have probably never heard of Khachatryan or Beethoven, presenting awards to people like Barsegh Tumanyan or Malkhas, the jazz musician. They’ve taken over everything. But this shouldn’t be a surprise, none of this. Don’t forget what happens during the Shant music competitions, especially the folk singer competition. Deputies from the parliament make phone calls to the show’s producers with all sorts of mild threats concerning their favorite candidates. No wonder, then, that there was a crowd of parents of the Shant program participants who were at the awards show last night, all dressed to the hilt, probably expecting the CD of competition participants to be announced as the winner of the best folk CD division. I’m sure they all went into shock when the Shoghaken CD won the award.”

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