What it is like to be an Armenian Musician in China

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Astghik Poghosyan

We all know that being from a small country like our Armenia can cause some difficulties when you live in a country as

big as China.Everyday questions like “where is Armenia on a map”,”what we like to eat”,”what’s the total population in

Armenia” can be quite often when you live somewhere as far as here.

Some of us has some language difficulties here,some of us don’t,some of us get to explain many things about Armenia

in just one taxi ride with the drivers,or with the fruit sellers or just to random people..some of us would like to,but don’t know how how.I was trying my best to use my words to explain some history facts about Armenia or explain how big is our history, how amazing and unique is our culture,but in some point I realized that I have a tool that I can use better than

words…

I have something that express more than words,I have the power to make them FEEL what was my country’s culture and

history like(and that was something that my beautiful WORD explanations could not do),I had the power,the power of

MUSIC- a language that doesn’t need any explanation,doesn’t need any studying,the language that every single person

in this entire world speaks.

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As an Armenian musician in China I would like to share one of the most memorable days in my life here.

That was the day when for the first time I organized in Shanghai the First Armenian Music Concert,which was taking place

in the Shanghai Concert Hall..This idea of organizing Armenian concert came to my mind a long time ago,but due to some difficulties and it took time until it’s realization.I knew I could use music as a powerful tool to express to them what I feel,express what I love,I fear ,anything I could feel was not hard to express by music.I decided to express my love to

my country,my culture and my love to my traditions by organizing this Armenian Concert where all the program would be full of My music,full of my traditions,full of me.

I invited some of my Chinese and international friends who were studying a music performance with me by that time,and gave them the scores,the scores of our genius Komitas.

After our first rehearsal they started to memorize the melody,they started to tell me which one is their favorite

piece,they started to feel so much excitement about this music,because it was new to them,they felt that they were

exploring something new and discovering a new culture.

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I started to tell them about the history of what they were playing,what is the song meaning

(like”Echmiadzni par” or “Garun a” .I started to tell them about the life of Komitas,why he wrote these all songs and who

he was.I wanted to be sure that by the time  they go on a stage to play his music they would have a full understanding of what they are playing.

The day of the concert came and I was really nervous and excited,because one of my dreams was about to come true.

Everyday rehearsals and hard work was going to be shown to an audience which completely had no idea about what I was going to play,what my country looks like,what culture  we have .The only fear that I had was that they might not understand it,maybe they will find it kind of hard for listening and understanding ,but deep in my heart I didn’t want to believe it.

We played a concert for 1 hour,1 hour of Armenian Music,1 hour of a pure beautiful traditional music,One hour of me!

We played the last piece,it was the “Echmiadzni Par” the piece that I decided to finish my concert with,the dance of those strong Armenian men,who fighted for my country and our piece.The last note… And we finished our cconcert.

Everybody started to applause and all of them with a smiles on their faces were looking at me. Yes,they liked it.

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Every concert has those “Anchor” pieces in the end,as an addition to the program And as it was planned I took the microphone and started to talk about Armenia. I told them the basic information and facts and after that when they had the picture of it as a music and the basic information,they could let their mind to do the rest.That rest was full of beauty and colors.As an anchor piece I prepared the famous piece of Komitas “Krunk” which is one of the most incredibly touching and beautiful music in this entire world. Before playing it,I started to tell them about the cause of why Komitas wrote this Piece so I told them about the Armenian genocide. I saw their faces having those familiar sad smiles as if they understood what I am saying…and of course they understood., the same happened to them.

When I told them that there was a complete silence.Cello started to play one long note,which was going to be the same during the whole piece and I prepared to start when suddenly I felt that one teardrop of mine came down.I realized that talking about the genocide and talking about my country was the cause of these all what was happening to me,that tear that just fell down was my emotions, my sadness my anger,my pride my happiness. I finished playing and there was silence for couple of seconds.They stood up and applause for a long long time.

On That day they were ther as they were part of what I played,

they were there without any kind of cultural or national difference , they felt the same as I did.For a while I didn’t feel not home,for a while I felt that this is not the matter of the nationality,this is all about us-people,we are all the same.

They applause for a long time and I went back on a stage when one old man around his sixties came to me and asked.-Could you play that last piece again,please..!

I did played it one more time…and I finished playing,they smiled and came to me,most of them saying that this is the first time that they have ever heard about Armenia and the impression that they got from this small country is going to stay in their heart forever,some of them told me after getting to know Armenian in this way they want to go and visit it.Some of them just thanked me for making that hour unforgettable for them,for making them experience some country’s history and culture in this way.That sixty years old man came to me again and said,that he could never imagine that some country which is this far away can share this much similar history facts and the music can touch his heart so deeply as it is his own.

I captured his eyes expression on my mind.It was a moment that I would like to keep for the rest of my life.

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