Artists for Kids Foundation Gathers Hot Local Bands for December 30 Benefit
By Jenny Kiljian
After more than ten years of working together in an unofficial capacity–a dynamic team of visual and musical artists decided to form a non-profit organization in order to better serve the international Armenian artistic community–and children who have an interest or talent in the arts.
The Artists for Kids Foundation began with the collective vision of architect Aram Alajajian–graphic designer and publisher Tom Hovespian–and musician Arthur Meschian. Together with their families and friends–the group had organized and sponsored many notable art exhibits and concerts–including a sold-out performance by Rupen Hakhverdian at the Beyond the Stars Palace in Glendale–California.
By early 2004–the organizing committee had grown to include Gohar Karahagopian–Hagop Parseghian–Harry Vorperian–Anna Hovsepian–Nvart Alajajian–Anjik Parseghian–Marina Hakopyan–Sahag Ekshian–and Jirayr Habeshian.
According to its mission statement–the Artists for Kids Foundation was created to build a cultural bridge between living generations by introducing the public to exceptional artists in music and fine arts. Those involved with the Artists for Kids Foundation believe that through the preservation and promotion of artistic values–a kinder society will be fostered.
It’s with this goal in mind that the Artists for Kids Foundation is hosting the 2004 Annual HyeRock Festival–taking place on December 30 at the Henry Fonda Music Box Theater in Hollywood. Organizers tapped In Progress. . . –Red Snow–Aviatic–the Gor Band–and Non-Eye–to take center stage that night. Each band caters to different age groups and musical inclinations.
Jirayr Habeshian–charged with producing the concert–forecasts a monumental evening of music. "We’re bringing some of today’s youth to the concert and having them see first-hand both the up-and-coming performers and the more veteran rock musicians with Armenian backgrounds," he said.
Habeshian–formerly the drummer of Red Snow–and currently working with the Gor Band–says it was an organization such as the Artists for Kids Foundation that was missing in his development as an artist. "I think the only thing lacking for me– growing up as a rock musician was support. Within the Armenan community–in general–there’s been a narrow vision of what the culture is in respect to the arts–and I feel it’s much more broad," said Habeshian–a real estate agent–who has been involved in Homenetmen and Pyunic. "We have a lot of talented artists in all genres–music–scultpure–painting–the motion picture industry–architecture–yet only a handful of Armenia’s know of the existence of these people."
The 2004 HyeRock Festival–according to Habeshian–is intended to introduce the younger generations to the Artists for Kids Foundation and "to let them know that alongside some of the existing organizations–there’s one with the specific mission statement for youth who want to pursue the arts."
2005 will also be a busy year for the Artists for Kids Foundation. Slated for February is "Free Concert for Kids," a two-night event featuring Rupen Hakhverdian–which will coincide with the release of the renowned musician’s new children’s album. A concert similar to the HyeRock Festival will take place in Armenia during the summer. The organization also promises assorted smaller concerts throughout the year and–of course–the Annual HyeRock Festival.
HyeRock Festival 2004 at Henry Fonda Music Box Theater in Hollywood December 30–7 p.m.
To reserve tickets call 818-523-9995 or 818-240-1515.
Non-Eye was formed in mid-2004–with Hayk on vocals and guitar–Chris on drums–and Narek on bass. The influence of the Armenian culture is apparent in Non-Eye’s music–and the band cites Aram Khachaturian as one of its influences along with System Of A Down–TOOL–and Rush. "This is a great opportunity given to us by the Artists for Kids Foundation–for our music to be heard on a greater stage so early in our development," said Hayk. "We hope to bring our music to a more diverse audience and continue our progress as band."
IN PROGRESS. . .
In Progress. . . has been working together since 2002. The acoustic folk rock band comprises Mher Ajamian on percussion–Ara Dabandjian on lead guitar and keyboards–Shant Mahserejian on violin–and Jeremy Millado on bass–while Saro Koujakian (rythm guitar) and Gars Sherbejian share vocal duties. "We feel honored to be a part of this show–as it will feature some of the best local Armenian bands and we’re ecstatic to be considered in such talented company," said Mher Ajamian. "We’re also very excited about the variety of musical styles that will be on display. It’s for a great cause and produced by a first-class organization."
THE GOR BAND
This is Gor Mkhitarian’s second collaboration with the Artists for Kids Foundation.
Mkhitarian will be performing with his new band–which is Ara Dabanjian on accordion–Vahe Terteryan on bass–and Jirayr Habeshian on drums. Also with the Gor Band at the HyeRock Festival will be Jay Dean on guitar. "It’s very exciting–but difficult at the same time because ours is the only [Armenian] folk band. We’re not sure how that contrast will play out," says Mkhitarian. "No matter what–we’re glad to be doing something for the kids."
When their former bands parted ways–the members of Aviatic saw a tremendous opportunity ahead of them. The band–with Sebu Simonian on vocals and keyboards–Barrett Yeretsian on drums–Ryan Welker on guitars–and Clint Feddersen on bass–has been working diligently to produce its first album. "We’re very excited to play the HyeRock Festival and encouraged by any effort to promote rock music in the local community–especially when there’s a such a good cause attached to it," says Simonian. "We’re looking forward to taking the stage at the glorious Henry Fonda Theater. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture in the heart of historic Hollywood–and boasts one of the best sound systems in all of Southern California. I can’t wait to blast our music through it."
The intensity of Red Snow’s performances has been creating a flurry in the Los Angeles music scene. The band–which recently released its album Showtime Motel–is LaLa Avedis on vocals–Vahe Marzbetuny on guitars–Shant Sarkissian on drums–Jack Kurdian on keyboards–and Zareh Marzbetuny on bass. "We would like to express our gratitude for the opportunity to participate in such a worthwhile event. An event like this is a dream come true–and will showcase the talents of Armenian rock," said Vahe Marzbetuny. "We’re confident we can motivate the youth to embrace rock music and support such a worthy cause such as the Artists for Kids Foundation. We’re looking forward to seeing all our fellow Hye brothers and sisters at the show."